The company acts as a force multiplier for the Kenyan government by supplementing police responsibilities in addressing insecurity in high risk areas
For several years, Kenya has been battling with rising insecurity threats ranging from terrorism, banditry and urban criminals. The country has for instance borne the brunt of al-Shabab militant’s attacks, which have caused serious injury, death as well as loss and destruction of property. Additionally, alarming rate of population growth, high rates of unemployment among the youth, rising political temperatures and change of tactics among criminals have fueled insecurity in most parts.
Against this background, the government through state security agencies has been at the forefront of tackling insecurity to protect all Kenyans wherever they are. Private security companies (psc) have also come in handy to augment the policing responsibilities. They act as a force multiplier for the Kenyan government.
One such company is Vickers Security Services Limited. Founded in 1998, it is one of the leading private security firms in the country. According to Major (Rtd) Adow Jehow, the Director of Operations at Vickers, the idea to establish a security firm was born in the jungle while on a military training. “It was my dream while still at the military, since I needed something to do after retiring from active services,” he says. Together with two other retired Majors, (Major Bashir, MP Mandera North and Major A.M Shabello, director of external projects) they decided to form a company that would help Kenya on matters of security.
The security firm operates within the government legislated security policies. It is also a part of the Private Security Industry Association (PSIA) that was formed in 2007; an umbrella body to champion rights of all member companies. Vickers is a bonafide key player of PSIA and operates in full compliance with its policies and standards.
Since inception, the company has grown in leaps and bounds to become a key player in the security industry. It is a medium level company employing approximately 1,800 guards.
It has partnered with major corporate organizations including Banking sector, Oil explorations sector, Communication industry e.g Safaricom and Global Guardian. It is also represented in the United Kingdom and the United States, besides supporting international organizations and investors venturing in remote areas.
Headquartered in Nairobi, South c, Vickers has other branch offices in Wajir, Nakuru, Mandera, Garissa, Lodwar, Mombasa, Eldoret and Mogandishu.
The directors bank on their hands on experience, skills and vast knowledge gained both in the military and other institutions at senior management levels. “They have worked outside the country on security assignments (for instance during the Ethiopia-Eritrea war of 2001-2002), Darfur, Somalia, Congo as well as in volatile regions, which exposed them to real life security incidences,” reveals Major Jehow. Vickers is therefore led by professionals, who understand security matters and have the capacity of driving the company to higher heights. “We are able to anticipate, analyse and critically assess what could happen and mitigate incidences in the field.” For them, having a security company is a calling.
Furthermore, the company guards are hardened and can venture into austere terrains. That explains why Vickers is found in remote and volatile regions where others cannot dare. By virtual of coming from Northern Kenya gives the company a higher hand since it understands the people, culture and terrain; therefore it is able to advise the clients better.
The guards are also well trained to ensure they meet the needs of their clients. The security programmes are based on training needs that are evaluated through the company’s continuous links with its partners in the security industry.
Vickers has positioned itself as a customer centric and market led Security Company. It offers a range of reliable security services including 24 hours manned guarding, electronic security, electronic fence and perimeter, fire and alarm equipment, cash in transit, trips management, alarm response services, mobile patrol and courier services. Major Jehow says that electronic security such as tracking systems, monitoring gadgets and CCTV have become the mode of security in today’s world.
Additionally, the company provides training to institutions on matters of security. Major Jehow notes that training staff in universities and other institutions helps in creating awareness on security matters. The need to train staff was inspired by the 2015 terrorist attack at Garissa University that left at least 147 people, mostly students, dead. The incidence acted as a wakeup call, not only for the state security agencies, but also for private security firms to come up with strategies to mitigate crimes.
Since inception, Vickers has made major strides in the security industry. It is recognized in the market as a security services provider, especially by the fact that it has brought sanity on security matters in the Northern Kenya. The company is protecting some of the most volatile areas, not only in Kenya, but also in Somalia – Port of Mogadishu.
“We are also at the forefront of providing training to people,” says Major Jehow adding that “We have initiated programmes for schools in Northern Kenya, particularly in Wajir and Mandera counties, where we are training staff on Hostile Environment Awareness Training (HEAT).” The aim is to create awareness on target persons and change their security perceptions, and eventually mitigate and deter occurrences of avoidable incidences.
As former military officers, the company directors are also consulted both at the national and county levels on what directions to take in regards to security issues. The talks usually focus on how to modernize the country’s security.
Despite the major achievements, Major Jehow reveals that rising crime rates, political interferences and rising housing costs are some of the challenges affecting the operations of private security companies.
The guards are also poorly remunerated, while most of them are illiterate, making it difficult to train them.
Kenya has about two million guards operating from fragmented private security companies. There is no transparency and accountability on how they operate. “The government should support the companies through funding since they complement the public security in safeguarding the country,” says Major. Besides, there should be a strong regulating authority controlling the firms at a central level.
Private security companies also train their guards independently, implying that they possess varied training. Major Jehow feels that there should be a centralized training school for all security guards to guarantee training uniformity, similar with how the state security is trained.
Vickers is at a modernization phase to meet the security needs of the current world. “We are setting up a control room with modern monitoring gadgets.” The company has also embarked on modern fire and equipment alarm systems, electronic security systems, biometric finger prints and modern vehicles to remain relevant in today’s evolving world. The aim is to remain modern and market oriented.
Moreover, the company focuses on getting the best brains in the industry such as well-trained retired officers from military, police or criminal investigation department or criminologists to help fuel the company forward.
Major Jehow notes that Kenya should have a solid solution to address rising insecurity. He feels that it will be easier for the country to deal with insecurity issues if people remain united. The government should also rely on private security companies such as Vickers to fight crime and bring sanity in the country.
|Major (Rtd) Jehow at a glance
Born in 1967
Studied in Wajir High School and then Gabatura High School for his A-levels
Joined Military Academy at Lanet in 1989 to 1991
Later joined Tank regiment and Parachute battalion at Gilgil
Holds a Bachelor degree in Business Management and a degree in Military Strategic Studies
Formed Vickers in 1998 with two other retired majors
Currently the Director of Operations & Quality assurance at Vickers