By Kalume Kazungu
Police reservists from villages that have been experiencing attacks in Lamu County want the government to equip them with sophisticated weapons to enable them fight the Al-Shabaab militants who are terrorising the region.
The more than 100 KPR officers from Kaisari, Pandanguo, Jima, Poromoko, Nyatha, Bar’goni and Basuba areas said the government has ignored them by leaving them to use outdated guns which cannot be used to attack and combat attacks from Al-Shabaab militants once they strike their villages.
Speaking to the Nation in Lamu on Moday, County KPR Commander Mr William Kiragu said it was unfortunate that the government had failed to address matters concerning their working conditions and related equipment.
He said despite the KPR being the first people on the ground to face criminals during times of attacks, it was ironical that the government had not made any steps to change weaponry and also recognise the KPR officers.
“We have sacrificed our lives and we are very ready to cooperate with the government in the fight against militants and defend citizens and property.
“We, however, appeal to the government to equip us with advanced guns and buy uniforms for us including bullet-proof vests.
“We are confident that if we are well equipped, we will do even a greater job and end this war with Al-Shabaab,” said Mr Kiragu.
Mr Simon Njuguna said the reservists situated in villages with poor communication network also need to be equipped with radios that will enable them to pass information for proper back up from police and other security units.
He said many of the places being targeted by Al-Shabaab militants lack mobile phone network, a factor that has given the enemy ample time to conduct many killings before police arrive.
Commenting on the same, Lamu Deputy Governor Eric Mugo accused the national government of undermining the KPR department.
“The morale of these KPRs is being killed by the government itself. Most of them are poor despite the duty they undertake.
“If the government can give them a salary and empower them by giving them sophisticated weapons, it would be better.
“The guns they are using are too old-fashioned to be used in a modern war zone,” said Mr Mugo.
Mr Mugo alo said there was need for the officers to be fully involved in the ongoing Operation Linda Boni.
“I believe these KPR officers are very well informed and also know this region well.
“By empowering them and involving them in the Operation Linda Boni, the hunt for Al-Shabaab will be more successful,” he said.
Early 2015, over 60 KPR in Lamu East Sub County quit their jobs and returned their guns, citing poor working conditions and lack of pay.
Their sentiments come just a week after three people were killed and one injured when over 30 suspected Al-Shabaab militants raided Kaisari and Nyatha villages on January 31, 2016.
Source: ALL AFRICA