In a rare show of patriotism, if not desperation, police officers in Nairobi have been forced to dig into their pockets to secure the new uniforms.
Strange as it might sound, the government has failed to supply uniforms to all units, instead passing the responsibility to individual officers. Last Friday, regional commander Rashid Yakub warned of disciplinary action against officers who report to work in the old attire.
"All officers must be in the new medium blue uniform, except for the formed-up units who have their own order of dressing. In addition, all officers are cautioned against mixing uniforms, or wearing non-uniform items alongside the uniform. Failure to comply with these instructions will attract serious disciplinary action," the directive stated.
In most stations, officers were turned away from duty on Monday because they were yet to secure the new set. "Last week, those still in the old uniform were given the last warning. On Monday, we still wore them to work but we were turned away at the gate. The regional commander has now given a directive that we stay at home," an officer told the Nation.
Another added: "Who allowed this to happen? Where is the tailor getting this material from? Like most of my colleagues, I have no money for the new uniforms, so we're just at home."
Frustrated officers claimed their superiors were forcing them to incur an unnecessary expenditure. "We have been given contacts of some civilian tailors who have been approved to stitch the new uniforms at our cost. This is unfair because we have not been given allowances to cater for them. It's the government's responsibility." The tailors do not come cheap; they are charging between Sh3,000 and Sh5,000 a pair.
Mr Yakub's order has caused jitters in the service, particularly officers who are yet to receive their batches since the distribution started in late 2018. It also contradicts Inspector-General Hilary Mutyambai's approval of the old uniform last week.
In his periodical interactive online session with Kenyans, dubbed #EngageTheIG on September 7, he said the uniforms will be distributed in batches as and when resources are available.