Northeastern politicians have praised the government’s move to recruit and post more KPR officers at the border, saying it will improve security.

Speaking in Garissa town on Tuesday, Northeastern regional commissioner Mohamed Birik said the government has finalised plans to recruit additional Kenya Police Reservists.

They will be posted at the 60 border points with war-torn Somalia.

Birik said the reservists will improve security at the porous border that al Shabaab terrorists use to gain entry into Kenya, “The reservists will help our security officers patrol the boundary.”

The regional commissioner said the KPR officers will closely work with the chiefs and assistant chiefs daily. Birik said the move is part of plans to put in place a secure border and stop al Shabaab attacks.

Speaking to the Star on the phone, Ijara MP Sophia Abdi and a group of Garissa elders said the deployment should be fast-tracked. Abdi’s constituency partly borders Somalia.

She said residents understand the important role played by KPRs in maintaining security.

“KPRs know the terrain of their respective areas. They have knowledge of the people. They can easily detect and know an enemy because they mingle and interact with the communities,” Abdi said.

The lawmaker added that the impact of the few officers already on the ground is being felt by the residents.

They have thwarted several attacks that would have led to deaths, she said. Abdi urged the government to equip the reservists so they can match the militants who use sophisticated weapons.

“Recruiting them is one thing and equipping them is another altogether. We would not wish to see a situation where the militants attack our territory and overpower our officers because they are ill-equipped.”

Garissa Peace Committee secretary Hassan Osman, who spoke on behalf of the elders, called for thorough vetting of the KPR officers, saying al Shabaab sympathisers may find their way into the unit.

“The exercise might prove counterproductive if it is not carried out well. We might end up having individuals who work with the militants by leaking crucial information,” Osman said.

Source: The Star