At least 400 National Police Reservists (NPR) working in Lamu have something to smile about after ward reps unanimously passed a motion compelling the county to pay them monthly stipends.
Nominated MCA Halima Tuna, who sponsored the motion, said the allowances would boost the NPRs’ morale.
Speaking outside the assembly buildings shortly after the vote, Ms Tuna said lack of recognition, including failure by the government to pay NPRs, had made it hard for most of them to commit fully to their call.
“Many people are reluctant to fully exercise their duties as NPRs, especially in an area like Lamu where there are security operations,” she said.
“That’s why I came up with the motion seeking to have NPRs here provided with allowances by the county government. I am happy the motion has been passed.”
Hongwe Ward MCA James Komu argued that though the reservists are first responders to incidents like terror attacks, the government had not modernised their weapons or recognised them.
“These people are always on the ground. They are the first people to come out and defend citizens when security is jeopardized,” he said.
“As we seek to have the devolved unit pay allowances to NPRs, we are also looking forward to the national government to also consider paying salaries to these vital officers.”
Take part in security matters
Paul Mwaura, a police reservist who is also the chairperson of the Lamu Nyumba Kumi officials, could not hide his happiness at the assembly’s vote.
He said many reservists lived in poverty and it was important for them to be paid.
“It’s almost the eighth year since we started to push the government to put us on the payroll but nothing has materialised. We feel the roles we are paying are almost similar to other paid security officers,” he said.
“I am happy that our MCAs have realised this and pushed the county government to pay us. I already feel our morale has been boosted even before the allowances reach us.”
Leonard Ngalah, a reservist in Witu, reiterated that the vote on the motion was timely.
“We are family men and at the same time we are required to take part in security matters in our villages. Sometimes we fail to sustain our families as we strive to perform the NPR duties. We need those allowances,” he said.
William Mwangi, a reservist in Lamu, said that though he had been on the job for 14 years, he had nothing to show for it.
“Not even a simple medical allowance or a pension. But I am happy to hear that our MCAs are pushing for us to get allowances. We will appreciate it,” he said.
Lamu County Commissioner Irungu Macharia said there is no harm in police reservists getting more from the county government.
“They are already receiving a token from the national government but there is no problem if they get more from the devolved unit,” he said.
The assembly vote comes as NPRs, especially in Pandanguo, Kaisari, Poromoko, Nyatha, Jima, Bar'goni and Basuba, have demanded sophisticated guns so as to defend themselves and the public from terrorists.
They say they carry outdated rifles that cannot match those used by terrorists and criminals.
They have also been pushing for the government to pay them.
In 2015, more than 60 NPRs in Lamu East quit their jobs and returned their guns, citing poor working conditions and lack of pay.