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More police to be your neighbours

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By STELLA CHERONO
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You will soon have police officers as neighbours following a change of policy in the National Police Service, which will see the abolition of mandatory and free housing for junior officers.

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Thursday directed the National Treasury to initiate the termination of all leases with landlords of police estates as the government plans to start paying housing allowances to the officers.

Officers will have to pay rent and service their utilities like any other tenant under the landlord agreement when they start to get their house allowances.

Similarly, the government will demolish dilapidated houses in police lines and officers who will occupy houses constructed under the police housing project will pay rent.

“All officers in shared houses, or those housed in structures in police lines, shall vacate them within 90 days of the date of the allowances, and integrate themselves in their communities and neighbourhoods. Separate shift quarters for male and female officers on duty and those on standby for duty will be provided,” President Kenyatta announced.

Officers’ allowances will commensurate the market rates and ranks, but this will be implemented after thorough consultations with the Salaries and Remuneration Commission, the Treasury and other stakeholders.

Under the new arrangement, the lowest ranking police office, a constable working in Nairobi, will receive a house allowance of Sh18,124 per month.

Those living in Mombasa, Kisumu, Nakuru, Meru and Uasin Gishu will receive Sh13,124 to pay for their rent. The rest in the remaining counties will receive Sh8,124.

President Kenyatta announced the new plan during a national security conference at the Kenya School of Government in Kabete.

The changes are part of the reforms put in place following his directive to Inspector General Joseph Boinnet and Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i to come up with new strategies.

Apart from changes in the police housing, the President announced the integration of some functions of the National Police Service (NPS) and the Administration Police Service. He also abolished some of the senior command positions in the two services.

The President directed Dr Matiang’í and Mr Boinnet to eliminate duplication in reporting functions to reorganise the police service command structure in conformity with NPS Act 2011.

The deputy inspector general in-charge of Kenya Police Service will now focus on public safety and security while his Administration Police service counterpart will focus on protective and border security, as well as combating cattle rusting and banditry.

The function of the Director of Criminal Investigations remains unchanged, that is, focusing on criminal investigations.

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The President also eliminated duplication by integrating 39,680 Kenya Police officers and 24,572 Administration Police officers to form the General-Duty Police Officers under the command of the Deputy Inspector-General, Kenya Police Service.

“This will leave us a total of 64,252 general-duty police. Given the unified command we can expect better security for Kenyans,” President Kenyatta said.

He directed refresher training offered to all new general-duty police officers to instil a common understanding of work.

They will also have new uniforms; deep blue for work, navy blue ceremonial outfit and a deep blue working dress jacket.

The President also changed the Rural Border Patrol Unit to the Border Police Unit, and doubled its officers to 6,000 officers. These officers will work under the command of the APS Deputy Inspector-General.

“To enhance protection of critical national infrastructure and support national government functions, the Security of Government Buildings Units (SGB) and Critical Infrastructure Protection Unit (CIPU) units will be integrated, and their strength raised from 4,773 to 8,280 officers under the command of the Deputy Inspector-General, APS,” the President said.

The Kenya Police Service Anti-Stock Theft Units, and the Administration Police Stock Theft Prevention Units have also been integrated, and their number raised to 5,000. They will work under the command of Deputy Inspector-General, APS.

The Head of State also scrapped a total of 12 senior positions both in the APS and KPS, introducing just four positions in the command structure. All police ward, posts and outposts formerly under APS shall fall under General Duty (GD) Police

He removed the position of the APS Regional Commander, KPS Regional Commander, DCI Regional Commander, County Coordinating Commander, KPS County Commander, APS County Commander; DCI County Commander, APS Sub County Commander, DCI Sub County Commander, KPS Officer Commanding Police Divisions; District Administration Police Commander and the APS ward commander.

The President further announced the alignment of the current administrative boundaries to deliver a unified command, which will be headed by one regional police commander, one county police commander and a sub county police commander and officer commanding police Station who will also be known as a ward commander.

He will be in-charge of the police station and its posts and patrol bases.

“The comprehensive changes we are ushering today are meant to deepen the transformation of the police, and, indeed, our overall national security,” said the president.



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Public officers above 58 years and with pre-existing conditions told to work from home: The Standard

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Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua. [File, Standard]
In a document from Head of Public Service, Joseph Kinyua new measure have been outlined to curb the bulging spread of covid-19. Public officers with underlying health conditions and those who are over 58 years -a group that experts have classified as most vulnerable to the virus will be required to execute their duties from home.

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However, the new rule excluded personnel in the security sector and other critical and essential services.
“All State and public officers with pre-existing medical conditions and/or aged 58 years and above serving in CSG5 (job group ‘S’) and below or their equivalents should forthwith work from home,” read the document,” read the document.
To ensure that those working from home deliver, the Public Service directs that there be clear assignments and targets tasked for the period designated and a clear reporting line to monitor and review work done.
SEE ALSO: Thinking inside the cardboard box for post-lockdown work stations
Others measures outlined in the document include the provision of personal protective equipment to staff, provision of sanitizers and access to washing facilities fitted with soap and water, temperature checks for all staff and clients entering public offices regular fumigation of office premises and vehicles and minimizing of visitors except by prior appointments.
Officers who contract the virus and come back to work after quarantine or isolation period will be required to follow specific directives such as obtaining clearance from the isolation facility certified by the designated persons indicating that the public officer is free and safe from Covid-19. The officer will also be required to stay away from duty station for a period of seven days after the date of medical certification.
“The period a public officer spends in quarantine or isolation due to Covid-19, shall be treated as sick leave and shall be subject to the Provisions of the Human Resource Policy and procedures Manual for the Public Service(May,2016),” read the document.
The service has also made discrimination and stigmatization an offence and has guaranteed those affected with the virus to receive adequate access to mental health and psychosocial supported offered by the government.
The new directives targeting the Public Services come at a time when Kenyans have increasingly shown lack of strict observance of the issued guidelines even as the number of positive Covid-19 cases skyrocket to 13,771 and leaving 238 dead as of today.
SEE ALSO: Working from home could be blessing in disguise for persons with disabilities
Principal Secretaries/ Accounting Officers will be personally responsible for effective enforcement and compliance of the current guidelines and any future directives issued to mitigate the spread of Covid-19.

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Uhuru convenes summit to review rising Covid-19 cases: The Standard

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President Uhuru Kenyatta (pictured) will on Friday, July 24, meet governors following the ballooning Covid-19 infections in recent days.
The session will among other things review the efficacy of the containment measures in place and review the impact of the phased easing of the restrictions, State House said in a statement.
This story is being updated.
SEE ALSO: Sakaja resigns from Covid-19 Senate committee, in court tomorrow

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Drastic life changes affecting mental health

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Kenya has been ranked 6th among African countries with the highest cases of depression, this has triggered anxiety by the World Health Organization (WHO), with 1.9 million people suffering from a form of mental conditions such as depression, substance abuse.

KBC Radio_KICD Timetable

Globally, one in four people is affected by mental or neurological disorders at some point in their lives, this is according to the WHO.

Currently, around 450 million people suffer from such conditions, placing mental disorders among the leading causes of ill-health and disability worldwide.

The pandemic has also been known to cause significant distress, mostly affecting the state of one’s mental well-being.

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With the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic attributed to the novel Coronavirus disease, millions have been affected globally with over 14 million infections and half a million deaths as to date. This has brought about uncertainty coupled with difficult situations, including job loss and the risk of contracting the deadly virus.

In Kenya the first Coronavirus case was reported in Nairobi by the Ministry of Health on the 12th March 2020.  It was not until the government put in place precautionary measures including a curfew and lockdown (the latter having being lifted) due to an increase in the number of infections that people began feeling its effect both economically and socially.

A study by Dr. Habil Otanga,  a Lecturer at the University of Nairobi, Department of Psychology says  that such measures can in turn lead to surge in mental related illnesses including depression, feelings of confusion, anger and fear, and even substance abuse. It also brings with it a sense of boredom, loneliness, anger, isolation and frustration. In the post-quarantine/isolation period, loss of employment due to the depressed economy and the stigma around the disease are also likely to lead to mental health problems.

The Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) states that at least 300,000 Kenyans have lost their jobs due to the Coronavirus pandemic between the period of January and March this year.

KNBC noted that the number of employed Kenyans plunged to 17.8 million as of March from 18.1 million people as compared to last year in December. The Report states that the unemployment rate in Kenya stands at 13.7 per cent as of March this year while it stood 12.4 per cent in December 2019.

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Mama T (not her real name) is among millions of Kenyans who have been affected by containment measures put in place to curb the spread of the virus, either by losing their source of income or having to work under tough guidelines put in place by the MOH.

As young mother and an event organizer, she has found it hard to explain to her children why they cannot go to school or socialize freely with their peers as before.

“Sometimes it gets difficult as they do not understand what is happening due to their age, this at times becomes hard on me as they often think I am punishing them,”

Her contract was put on hold as no event or public gatherings can take place due to the pandemic. This has brought other challenges along with it, as she has to find means of fending for her family expenditures that including rent and food.

“I often wake up in the middle of the night with worries about my next move as the pandemic does not exhibit any signs of easing up,” she says. She adds that she has been forced to sort for manual jobs to keep her family afloat.

Ms. Mary Wahome, a Counseling Psychologist and Programs Director at ‘The Reason to Hope,’ in Karen, Nairobi says that such kind of drastic life changes have an adverse effect on one’s mental status including their family members and if not addressed early can lead to depression among other issues.

“We have had cases of people indulging in substance abuse to deal with the uncertainty and stress brought about by the pandemic, this in turn leads to dependence and also domestic abuse,”

Sam Njoroge , a waiter at a local hotel in Kiambu, has found himself indulging in substance abuse due to challenges he is facing after the hotel he was working in was closed down as it has not yet met the standards required by the MOH to open.

“My day starts at 6am where I go to a local pub, here I can get a drink for as little as Sh30, It makes me suppress the frustration I feel.” he says.

Sam is among the many who have found themselves in the same predicament and resulted to substance abuse finding ways to beat strict measures put in place by the government on the sale of alcohol so as to cope.

Mary says, situations like Sam’s are dangerous and if not addressed early can lead to serious complications, including addiction and dependency, violent behavior and also early death due to health complications.

She has, however, lauded the government for encouraging mental wellness and also launching the Psychological First Aid (PFA) guide in the wake of the virus putting emphasis on the three action principal of look, listen and link. “When we follow this it will be easy to identify an individual in distress and also offer assistance”.

Mary has urged anyone feeling the weight of the virus taking a toll on them not to hesitate but look for someone to talk to.

“You should not only seek help from a specialist but also talk to a friend, let them know what you are undergoing and how you feel, this will help ease their emotional stress and also find ways of dealing with the situation they are facing,” She added

Mary continued to stress on the need to perform frequent body exercises as a form of stress relief, reading and also taking advantage of this unfortunate COVID-19 period to engage in hobbies and talent development.

“Let people take this as an opportunity to kip fit, get in touch with one’s inner self and  also engage in   reading that would  help expand their knowledge.

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