Disaster Averted.. Maybe Not.

On Thursday a would be disaster was swiftly averted. When the Administration Police (AP)-whose job it is to guard government offices- of Eldoret County boycotted their posts in protest their lack of payment. They cite a pay package agreed to in 2010 which if it was adhered to would have paid them in three phases but which as most financial deals was soon to dry up.

The murmurs of a strike within the force began when an SMS was passed around amongst the disgruntled man in uniform urging a strike from the 1st of this month until they were paid, the writer of the text went on to urge his fellow officers to down their tools, ‘No guards, no arrest, no escort, no investigation...Paralyse what you can.’ The officers wanted a salary increase of at least 20%, and the harmonization of pay within the AP.

This may perhaps be the shortest boycott in the countries strike filled history as the slightest whiff of disaster led the normally hard lining and tight fisted MP’s and treasury into a super fast agreement with the police- this agreement taking anywhere from a few hours to a night, but definitely not a whole day- seeing fit to part with a package of 3.7 Billion Shillings, an 8.5% pay hike and thus averting the nations complete standstill. But this move to appease the police will be costly to the pockets of taxpayers; in fact the Internal Security Minister Katoo Ole Metito says it will cost nearly 4 Billion shillings. The minister denies that this pay package came as a result of the strike and insists instead that it was part of police reforms.

Maybe it’s just me but I couldn’t help but think of those other poor civil servants who had to endure weeks and weeks and miles of walking to parliament or the PM’s office, loud and actual street protests under the often punishingly hot sun to get the government to open their tightly locked fists, relent on their hard stance and part with that well earned money to other civil servants who even though unable to paralyse the entire country if they took off work are still just as important to the smooth running of the nation.

That was last week... Somewhere between that and the beginning of this one the police considered the offering for an all too short minute and decided - rightly- that they were/ are worth much more than what the Internal Security minister and his co-horts were offering and that deserved their due and at the very least they needed not live in near squalor.

Thus ensued a sort of confusion and or denial of the situation by the powers that be with some police putting their weapons were their mouths are and boycotting their work.

The government reverted back to old habits and in so doing proved that old habits do indeed die hard and talked tough to the boys in blue, threatening and demanding that those that had protested return to work and firing the so called instigator-AP Constable Philip Omondi of Kimilili- whose SMS circulated through the ranks and caused the go-slow.


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