Kenya police reopen 999 emergency number

Someone on the phone in Kenya - 2006 It has often been easier to go to a police station in person than find one of the long numbers

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Kenyan police have told the BBC that their 999 emergency number for the capital has reopened after 15 years but is being overloaded by prank calls.

In July a court ordered the police to switch it back on by the end of July, but BBC calls to the number in Nairobi have gone unanswered.

Police turned off the number in 1998, saying they did not have the personnel and facilities to deal with the calls.

Residents had to use long local numbers to get through to the police.

The BBC's Caroline Karobia in the capital, Nairobi, says it was often easier to go to the nearest police station to report a crime than look up a nine-digit number for the service.

Nairobi police chief Benson Kibui told the BBC by phone that since the number was turned back on they had received prank calls, for example people looking for a hotel.

It had also been overloaded by those testing the line, he said.

Kenyan activist Okiyo Omtatah went to court in May seeking to get the number switched back on.

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