By: ANGIRA ZADOCK
All prison warders and National Youth Servicemen deployed in Nairobi have been gazetted as special police officers to help in providing security during the visit by Pope Francis.
This brings to about 15,000, the number of security officers assigned the task of providing security in the city.
Though two separate security reports by the nation’s security intelligence teams indicated that the country would be relatively safe, the deployment is still heavy.
The first situation analysis was carried out for a period of one month, while the latest report was based on an assessment over the last 7 days.
Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, had also last week indicated that there were no new worrisome threats and that the Pope would carry on with his program as scheduled.
To ensure that other parts of the country were not exposed, only a reasonable number of security officers were drawn from outlying regions to reinforce their colleagues in Nairobi.
Most of the officers will be deployed for crowd control and to ensure free movement of vehicles as special units provide security around the venues.
The additional officers will complement the 10,455 police officers.
Kenya Police Spokesperson Charles Owino yesterday said the officers were drawn from the Directorate of Criminal Investigations, the General Service Unit, the Kenya Police and the Administration Police Services.
“They are well equipped and deployed according to the unique security needs of the venues. Security in other parts of the country have also been enhanced,” he said.
On Wednesday, before the Pontiff’s arrival, police officers carried out patrols on the streets of Nairobi.
ELITE SQUADS ON ROOF TOPS
A number of uniformed officers, especially from the elite squads were spotted on roof tops of some of the city’s tall buildings.
Vehicles filled with security agents were parked in strategic places across the city, among them Uhuru Park, Globe Cinema Roundabout, Nyayo Stadium, Thika Road and other parts of town.
The Kenyan security officers are working closely with a number of Swiss guards, the military corps of the Holy See, responsible for the personal security of the Pope.
The Swiss Guards have over the past one month, been rehearsing the Pope’s security arrangements with their Kenyan counterparts, who had travelled to Rome.
Nairobi County Police Boss, Japhet Koome told the Nation that all personnel who will provide security for the Pontiff, had done their rehearsals and have been well briefed .
“A few people may move close to him or even greet him but their movements will be monitored because the Pope has to be secured despite the excitement,” Mr Koome said.
He acknowledging that unlike during US President Barrack Obama’s visit in July, Kenyans will be free to line up by the roads to see the Pontiff who landed in Nairobi on Wednesday afternoon.
SOURCE: DAILY NATION