In Summary
  • The team hang on frivolous excuses to annul the regulations despite having initially shown support during committee sessions.
  • A Nation investigation has exposed the heavy lobbying employed by the security firms, some that are owned by the same political class.

His pair of black boots rest next to a pavement on Muindi Mbingu Street, Nairobi.

The shoes, defiantly battered, tell a complete story of his life. It's mid-month.

He’s fighting the temptation to request a salary advance. To get to work, he had to walk three hours on an empty stomach.

He speaks good English, having gone to college. However, he cannot show his employer the papers just yet because it will mean his automatic firing.

On a good month, he makes Sh6,000 after a string of deductions on his payslip to share between rent, food and school fees for his family.

It is a dog’s life for Allan Onyango*, whose tale is that of of over 500,000 private security guards, commonly known as ‘watchmen’.

They literally watch over property worth billions of shillings as the country shuts down for the night.

What can stop him from selling intelligence of his workstation to criminals or terrorists to attack and rob in future? No one cares.


During the day, these security guards flip doors open, are required to have a smile and salute for millionaires as they slide into banking halls or lavish restaurants around town.

Some have not been too lucky. They have paid the ultimate price as they attempted to repulse heavily armed terrorists and organised gangs with nothing but their bare hands.

Some, like Allan, who cannot afford bus fare to work, have to brave the harsh weather to walk to work. This keeps him fit, he jokes.

But when it rains, he has to do everything to ensure he is not late.

For John Simiyu* who works on the next street, falling sick is a costly affair. When he shared his payslip with the Nation, he was unable to explain some deductions.

With disarming candour, John says he cannot afford to be sick. Paternity leaves are unheard off. He works for 26 straight days in a month from Monday to Sunday.

Should he not come to work for any reason, his employer chops off Sh600 from his meagre pay.

He cannot miss to be on duty on public holidays, since they are the only days he gets an extra Sh1,200 for a double shift.


But he just needs to be sick for a week to go home with a payslip with zero balance. If he does not like the terms, he is free to leave.

There is always someone waiting on the line to replace him immediately he calls it a day or absconds.

To make an extra coin, he has to hustle motorists and look after their cars for the night as well, and get some fare back home.

But as they bear all this, their employers, who negotiate good salaries from various companies on their behalf, but end up paying them peanuts, are laughing all the way to the bank.

The Nation has seen various contracts and invoices by more than 10 security companies with various firms, among them banks and blue chip companies, listed in the Nairobi Securities Exchange (NSE).

While corporates and other establishments pay between Sh40,000 to Sh65,000 per head, these security firms have found a string of costs to load on them and end up with more than half of their earnings.

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