Officers outside the DCI Forensic Laboratory ahead of its official commissioning. [Photo/ DCI]
Officers outside the DCI Forensic Laboratory ahead of its official commissioning. [Photo/ DCI]

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Monday, 13th June presided over the commissioning of the DCI National Forensic Laboratory in Nairobi – a multi-billion shilling project which has stalled multiple times over the past two decades.

Plans to set up the lab were initiated in the 90’s by former President Daniel Arap Moi’s administration at a cost of Ksh4.1 billion. The project was however consistently marred by delays over the years including during the tenure of Moi’s successor, former President Mwai Kibaki.

It wasn’t until 2014 that the lab was prioritized by President Uhuru Kenyatta’s administration and the physical building completed a year later. Its operationalization came much later, in February 2022 following the installation of relevant equipment.

It is expected to facilitate enhanced investigations into various cases and is equipped with modern technology, enhancing the capabilities of the country’s security agencies.

The mega-lab includes 10 specialized laboratories with different functions. Detectives deployed to the lab in various capacities have relevant qualifications in fields including Computer Science, Pure Mathematics, Chemistry, Biology, Biochemistry, Physics and Information Technology.

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In a statement issued ahead of the commissioning, the DCI stated: “The completion of this facility therefore, heralds a new chapter in Kenya’s history, as one of the country’s economic mainstay that will be key in shaping our prosperity. This is therefore a historic national achievement that DCI cannot celebrate alone, but with all Kenyans and stakeholders specifically within the justice system.”

The facility is already being put to the test. Earlier this year, investigators in the Seychelles turned to the DCI lab for assistance with a case.

The DCI was brought in to trace the country of origin, manufacturer, make, and type of seized arms and to establish whether had prior to their recovery been used to commit any offences.

While the DCI has maintained that the new lab is among the best in Africa, Kenyans can only hope that it will translate to speedy justice.

Many important cases have gone cold with the police offering little in the way of helpful information, fueling claims that investigators can be used to cover up matters.

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