There are people who like supporting police work, then there are Kilimani residents. Here, the residents’ association has been so keen on helping police serve them that they are now planning to construct a new Sh350 million station.
This, they believe, will create a structure befitting the station’s status as the centre that serves State House, major embassies, several ministry headquarters, major hospitals and universities, among other installations.
“This is probably the most important police division in the country but its facilities are run down,” Mr Karanja Kabage, chairman of the steering committee for construction of the new station, told the Saturday Nation.
So far, the residents have dug a Sh6 million borehole at the station that was established in 1914. Area police boss Michael Muchiri said the borehole has “transformed the lives of a lot of police officers within the camp”.
They have also conducted several clean-up activities, including the removal of damaged accident cars from the station.
Kilimani residents also have open days with the police, enjoin the police in the Kilimani Street Festival, have conducted tree-planting sessions at the station and have held events where they dine with the police, among other initiatives aimed at strengthening their relations with the police.
Ms Leilah Juma, a member of the steering committee for the rehabilitation of the station, said the residents are doing this because they understand the importance of security.
“If anything happens in my house today, God forbid, the person I go to is the police officer. And if I’m not on good terms with them, how then can I walk into that police station and report what is happening? We have to have that relationship,” she said. “If we were to befriend the police, I believe, crime would come down.”
Construction of the station, Mr Kabage said, is expected to start on June 15. After that, he noted, it will take 18 months to completion if everything goes according to plan.
“Our intention is to put up a ultra-modern police station with modern facilities.
“There is also going to be a community policing office within the station,” said the businessman.
RESEARCH CENTRE FOR COPS
“We are also going to have conference facilities, a research centre for the office, a shopping area for the police and also playing facilities for kids,” he added.
Mr Kabage was moved to start the idea after holding a meeting with former area police commander Peter Katam.
In his early days in Kilimani, Mr Katam invited Mr Kabage for a meeting and said he wanted to hear from “his customers”.
“I thought that was a very different perspective of policing. How often do you hear them talk about ‘customers’? That surprised me,” Mr Kabage said.
The insurance investor then got more interested in the environment police worked in and noted that it looked haggard from the outside.
“I decided that maybe I need to talk to a number of private sector leaders so that we can rehabilitate the station to a condition befitting its status,” said Mr Kabage.
Funding for the project, he said, will come from private companies and from individual contributions.
According to Mr Kabage, some of the institutions willing to support the project include the Chinese embassy, the Nairobi county government, the National Police Service and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance Foundation. The Public Works department has also joined in, he said.
MONEY FROM PRIVATE SECTOR
“We have also been able to get the ICEA Lion Group, which has made a firm commitment. We also have got Safaricom Group, which has also committed, in principle,” he said. “A huge amount of money will be coming from the private sector.”
As Mr Kabage is engaging the private sector in his bid to have a station that is “probably the biggest in the whole of this region”, others like Mrs Juma are prepared to mobilise residents through “Buy-a-Brick” initiative.
“Initially, our bricks started from Sh1,000 but we’re willing to take whatever anyone has, even if it is Sh50 or Sh100, to put into the kitty,” she said.
Mr Muchiri said the plans have made the police “very excited”: “Kilimani residents decided on their own accord that it is time to invest in police welfare for better security.”