The increased power that police commissioner Maj Gen Ali has finally started to enjoy, is now clearly being illustrated by the radical but highly creative new ideas now emerging.
In a move designed to arrest the runaway crime rate in the country, the police are now offering cash rewards for the recovery of weapons in a move that is meant to entice the public to report those keeping illicit firearms which are the ones doing all the damage.
For the recovery of a rifle, a Sh 50,000 reward awaits the person who will give information that will lead to its discovery while Sh 20,000 goes the same way for information leading to the recovery of a pistol.
This is an ingenious idea on the side of the police in a country where the crime rate is rising hand in hand with poverty levels. However it will also take courage on the part of the 'snitches' to make this operation a success.
It is also common knowledge that those who keep illegal weapons are known by members of the public but the same public chooses to keep quiet on the grounds that 'it is none of their business' while others can't imagine what could happen to them if they reported the culprits to the police and were discovered to have done so by criminals.
A friend of mine once told me that he visited a bar in Kayole in broad daylight to play pool and to his amazement, most of those who were 'shooting' were carrying concealed firearms which were visible when they bent down to shoot the balls, apparently, they were not police officers and were all barely 18 years old. Actually my friend suddenly lost his appetite for the pool game and had to find an excuse to leave immediately after quickly playing himself out of the first game.
Sh 50,000 is quite a 'large' amount of cash in Kenya today, about US$ 700 and this might just do the trick in bringing in the numerous AK-47 assault rifles that are in the wrong hands while Sh 20,000 is a modest enticement to report one having a pistol which he or she should not have. Interestingly an AK-47 rifle costs about Sh 50,000 in the black market while a pistol goes for between Sh 15,000-25,000, figures similar to what the police are offering for the recovery of the same. There is a high possibility that the reward money will quickly be compensated for by what would have been the government budget to purchase these weapons from the world market for the growing police force.
These offers come a day after top security chiefs met in Nairobi to discuss the upsurge of high profile crimes including bank robberies and the gunning down of police officers and it is most likely that the idea of offering rewards to members of the public on the recovery of illegal weapons was mooted here. Ali himself made it very clear in a Televised interview on NTV that his main target will be illicit fire arms and even proposed that much stiffer sentences be mooted in the Kenyan law for those found in possession of illegal arms. It is therefore clear where all these radical but very workable ideas are coming from.
This fact alone should render the recovery of illicit weapons a big success and hopefully the nightmare that has been insecurity will be dealt with once and for all.
The really sad thing is how politics has kept these ideas from emerging much earlier. Imagine the number of Kenyan lives that would have been saved.