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Residents oppose City Hall plan to retrain ‘kanjo’

Residents on Tuesday criticised plans by the county government to retrain askaris, saying, the force should, instead, be overhauled.

Last week, Governor Evans Kidero announced that the county and Daystar University had come up with a programme to retrain the askaris so that they can change their attitude and become more friendly to the public.

The askaris, who undergo training at the City Inspectorate Training School in Dagoretti, Nairobi, on how to enforce the county’s by-laws, are unpopular with wananchi.

TRAFFIC MARSHALS

They have been accused of harassment, arbitrary arrests and other unprofessional conduct.

“When paying our annual licences to the county government, we set aside another amount as bribes for the askaris to avoid arrests,” a fruit vendor in Nyamakima said.

He said the best City Hall can do is to overhaul the entire inspectorate. This view was echoed by boda boda riders, motorists and other hawkers.

“You cannot operate in this city without bribing the askaris. If you don’t, they will arrest you every day and confiscate your motorcycle,” a boda boda rider said.

Several motorists and matatu owners have been demanding the removal of city traffic marshals from the streets. The marshals were introduced by City Hall to complement police in controlling traffic.

While addressing a group of manufacturers in Nairobi last week, Dr Kidero admitted that county askaris are a big disappointment.

“When I wake up in the morning, I feel stressed when I think about the askaris,” the governor told the manufacturers, who had complained that the askaris harass people and demand bribes from them.

Dr Kidero told the manufacturers that the askaris had, however, helped in bringing down the crime rate in parts of the city.