OPINIONPeople Daily

A rogue police service inimical to Kenya’s prosperity

Kenya must confront the growing fears of insecurity in order to fast-track the ease of doing business in the country. The truth is that security concerns are the fulcrum that informs investors’ appetite for investment, and is closely associated with the tempo of development, including in Kenya.

Investors do not fancy putting money in insecure environments, but more importantly, the knock-on effects of insecurity on tourism is a good reminder for Kenya that we must continue to tackle the ogre of insecurity with bare knuckles.

Which is why it’s unfortunate that it is now emerging that Kenyans are increasingly worried with claims that elements in the police force are fanning crime from within. The ongoing strike and protests by lawyers and civil society groups over the killing of lawyer Willie Kimani, his client and taxi driver allegedly by police officers, have fuelled fears that the police could be among the biggest threats to personal security.

This raises fundamental questions on our ability to curtail insecurity when rogue officers are on the loose. It also does not bode well for Kenya’s quest for a free society where everyone is able to enjoy God-given liberties in peace. If things don’t change, this could lead to anarchy.

We need far-reaching reforms to enhance the effectiveness of the police service. But more importantly, regulatory agencies, including the Independent Police Oversight Authority (IPOA) and law enforcement must ensure that all those linked to the killing of the lawyer and two others are exhaustively investigated and the law allowed to take its course.

Kenyans are demanding transparent investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for, or linked to various heinous crimes in the country. That is the only way that Kenyan and foreign investors can be reassured of their safety and that of their investments.

The bad news, however, is that the wheels of justice are slow with the Judiciary currently suffering from a piling number of pending cases. When will the numerous cases that choke the process of justice be concluded? Frustrations are palpable, which probably explains the level of helplessness among Kenyans leading to the rise in the number of people who would rather sort things out of court.

It is also the major reason cartels are getting entrenched. It is in such a climate where bribery becomes the order of the day. Let’s face it. When the order of business is to either bribe officers or businesses is compromised, most Kenyans have learned to go for the low hanging fruits.

But for the majority of Kenyans who refuse to look the other way, the “firewalls” that are erected to fast-track bribes are shocking and that is how we end up stifling the bid to enhance ease of doing business. A classic example is operations in the matatu sector.

Everyday, bribes easily change hands in broad daylight. And going by the amount of money that some police officers reportedly transact on a single day, the police service will continue to dictate the rate of economic growth if sweeping changes are not put in place.

For the sake of development, and sanity of all Kenyans, bad elements — including those in the police service — must be smoked out to ensure a free and conducive environment for the country to flourish under the rule of law. —The writer is reporter and sub-editor with People Daily.

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