NAIROBI, Kenya, October 10- With Kenya still reeling from the deadly Westgate Mall terrorist attacks, a major security operation is in place for the October 27 Stanchart Nairobi International Marathon.
Speaking on Thursday, Dennis Ndwiga, the Head of Department for Event Security at G4S Kenya, the private firm that will provide security in conjunction with Kenya Police Service outlined the measures in place to cater for the over 21,000 participants expected as well as spectators.
“The emerging threat of terrorism is something we have looked at critically with various Government security agencies for such a complex event.
“Our aim is to provide a safe and secure environment so that the objectives and theme of the marathon can be achieved,” Ndwiga said.
With a new expansive route for the tenth running of the event in place, the official said they had put in place a plan to cover the expanded area the marathon will cover.
“We have looked at all possible threats and scenarios and we are working to ensure such things do not occur and should they occur, we have in place contingencies to mitigate that.
“The operation will be led by the office of the Inspector General of the Police and we have robust plans in place to deal with everyone since everybody is a suspect until you are sanitised but we will exercise security firmly but with dignity,” he added.
He disclosed that more than 3,500 officers, sniffer dogs, electronic screening gadgets, Closed Circuit Television surveillance and other facilities are in place for the marathon that attracts hundreds of foreign entries besides elite local athletes and fun runners.
Ndwiga said the security operation for the 2013 Nairobi Marathon would cost the firm with parentage in Britain more than 198,830.41 U.S. dollars since “We are leaving nothing to chance.”
“You cannot quantify human life with any amount of money. For us, we are not looking at it from a commercial perspective but we want to ensure that the event is successful.”
The heightened state of alert surrounding the event that has risen to become one of the biggest crowd pullers in Kenya has been precipitated by the Sept. 21 attack on the upscale Westgate Mall blamed on Somali militant group Al-Shabaab.
During the four-day siege, official figures cited at least 72 deaths, including 61 civilians, 6 Kenyan soldiers, and 5 attackers with the international make up of the marathon drawing parallels with the mall.
Earlier this year, two people died when two explosions went off in the finishing area of the Boston Marathon where Kenya’s Rita Jeptoo had just won the women’s race in the first recorded attack against a road race.
“Despite what happened, we have received many international entries from the US, Britain and China among other countries online and our duty is to ensure they fulfill their mission of competing at the home of distance running,” Peter Gitau, the chairman of the Nairobi Marathon Steering Committee assured.
Meanwhile, add Capital Sport, This year’s edition received 679,554.77USD (Sh58m) in sponsorship from 13 companies among them, Capital Group Limited that weighed in with 152,314.00USD (Sh13m) to earn the Platinum Status.
Title sponsor Standard Chartered will spend 1,054,481.55USD (Sh90m) to put the event together this year, the largest budget since the event was launched in 2003.