States join forces to rebuild Somali police forceBy NYAMBEGA GISESA in Mogadishu | Thursday, May 24 2012 at 08:27
A Ghanaian police officer welcomed us at the airport, a Ugandan officer led us to immigration department, and Nigerians opened the doors while a Sierra Leonean wiped dust off the chairs during a recent visit to Somali capital Mogadishu.
With stations that have no resources, worn out uniforms and officers receiving their pay almost two years late, the Somali Police Force (SPF) is perhaps the only one that is essentially a volunteer unit.
Even as the end of the transitional government in August nears, members of the fledgling Somali police force remain optimistic that although things were bad, they were much better than a few years ago.
The force is expected to be independent, fully established and a well-equipped by August, once the Amisom mandate comes to an end. All manner of help was coming the SPF’s way.
This Monday, it received the largest number of trainers.
“This group comes from Nigeria and they will assist in training the locals so that there can be a functional Somali Police Force,” Captain Gilbert Nitunga, the deputy spokesman for the African Union peacekeepers Amisom, said.
The 29 Nigerian officers are expected to train the Somalis to take charge of the post-war operations..
This is the most recent renewed effort to revive the SPF and the National Security Agency (NSA), which although will be celebrating their 69th and 41st anniversaries respectively this year, have been non-operational for almost two decades.
The police force is expected to assist in preventing attacks by the Al-Shabaab extremists, battle crimes and manage the capital city’s growing but chaotic traffic.
Although the force was still relatively small, numbering about 6,000, last year alone it managed to undertake 1,200 operations, resulting in the arrest of close to 1,000 suspected Al-Shabaab operatives.
The Somali police, which has established posts in all 16 of Mogadishu districts, continues receiving training and mentorship support of the Amisom Police Component (AUPOL).
However, the revival of the force was coming at a significant cost and numerous challenges.
One of the challenges is transforming from a unit, considered for too long to be part of the armed forces, to a service that maintains the peace and protects law and order.
The cash-strapped Transitional Federal Government that was wholly reliant on donors, was still struggling to pay police salaries.
In September last year, its Prime Minister, Dr Abdiweli Ali, went around with a begging bowl seeking help for the police.
In 2011, the force lost 18 men in line of duty and others through explosives.
This month, the Japanese Government donated 16 Land cruisers, two ambulances, two vehicles of personnel carriers, bullet proof jackets and combat helmets to SPF.
The Angolan Government has also offered to continue training and meeting the upkeep of Kenyan police residing in Manyani, awaiting deployment to Somalia.
Over 300 Somali soldiers have been trained in Uganda in the past few years.
Amisom Commissioner of Police Charles Makono says that about $300 million was required to strengthen the SPF to enable it function effectively and face the increasing challenges of policing the country.
Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?speak out
Read Story: Should Kenya spend $8.2 million to acquire an office for retired President Kibaki?
- The girl who met Gaddafi 'in hell'
- Nigerian deportee demands pay for Kenyan officials' release
- Ethiopia secures $300m Indian rail loan
- 7 Kenyans held in Lagos over deported 'Nigerian'
- Kenyan call girls go high-tech
- Nairobi in pictures: Past and present
- Madagascar confirms poll postponement
- Hospital quiet on Museveni birth records mystery
- Tanzania innovator lands $300,000
Beyond the ballot