By Adieri Mulaa
Nairobi county government officers from directorate of security and compliance have turned into marauding extortionist squads rendering many traders in the city at their mercy.
The rogue officers mostly target traders in the lower central business district and the business community in the up market Parklands and Highridge suburbs largely inhabited by the Asian community among other areas in the cosmopolitan capital.
Teams of county askaris purporting to be on inspection and enforcement beats pounce on traders going about their businesses and fix them on trumped up charges to coerce the victims to give bribes in exchange for their freedom.
In the emerging events, a Member of County Assembly (MCA) for Parklands/Highridge Ward, Jayendra Malde, has hit the roof over what he terms illegal enforcement operations by County Askaris (City Inspectorate officers).
Mr Malde wants the County Executive and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services to stop harassment of the business community and city residents by the City Inspectorate officers.
The MCA is seeking justice for residents and the business community in his Ward within Westlands constituency and those in other areas of the County who are equally victims of the rogue county askaris.
Since Nairobi Metropolitan Services took charge of functions that were transferred from Nairobi County Government, the City Inspectorate officers have been torn between two commands, one at City Hall under the Office of the Governor and another one at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), the NMS headquarters.
In the county government, Mr Benjamin Omondi is the director of Nairobi City Inspectorate department under the governor’s office.
It is evident that since Dr Mark Leleruk from the National Police Service was deployed to City Hall as the county chief officer for security enforcement and compliance, commanders in the sub county inspectorate formations are officers from the police service.
Ordinarily, county askaris operate under the City Inspectorate Act, 2017, which spells out enforcement procedure and circumstances for conducting arrests by the county enforcement officers.
Apparently, since officers from the National Police Service were deployed in the City Inspectorate formation as commanders, there has been conflict of interest, duplication of enforcement duties and responsibilities between the county askaris and officers from the NPS.
County askaris who sought anonymity told The Times they were unhappy with the new chain of command introduced by Dr Leleruk, where city inspectorate superintendents are insubordinated by inspectors deployed to City Hall from the police service.
A senior officer in the county Treasury said the duplication of duties between officers under the City Inspectorate and those from the National Police Service was causing apathy in coordination of revenue collection activities.
The County Assembly has tasked its sectoral Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Kahawa MCA Joseph Komu to address several concerns regarding harassment of traders by City Inspectorate officers across the county.
In a terse statement he tabled in the Assembly on Thursday last week, the Parklands/Highridge MCA wants the House committee to inquire into and report on how often enforcement officers undertake refresher training.
Further, the county legislator wants the Committee to establish from the county executive when such training last took place.
The House Justice committee is expected to report on the measures taken by the county government and the Nairobi Metropolitan Services to stop harassment of the business community and county residents by the City Inspectorate officers.