Security: we cannot afford laxity

Editor, Reference is made to the article, "Private guards on the spot over lax screening" (The New Times, October 20). This exposé should be a timely wake-up call for those responsible for overall security in our country, given the history of terror attacks we have been subjected to.
A man prepares to walk through a metal detector at the city market of Nyarugenge in Kigali recently. (John Mbanda)
A man prepares to walk through a metal detector at the city market of Nyarugenge in Kigali recently. (John Mbanda)

Editor,

Reference is made to the article, “Private guards on the spot over lax screening” (The New Times, October 20).

This exposé should be a timely wake-up call for those responsible for overall security in our country, given the history of terror attacks we have been subjected to.

We should also have learned from the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi that it is worse to have a semblance of security when there is none in reality than not to have it at all.

Where such overt security signs are absent, individuals will look to their own security by avoiding high-risk places rather than entrusting the very visible but misleading symbols of security.

Apart from that, Robert Muyango, as quoted in the story, is absolutely right regarding some of the major reasons for the lackadaisical attitude of the security guards at many of our high-flow public places where security consciousness should be a top priority: lax supervision, long hours, poor pay and low morale, not to mention poor training.

Boredom also plays a significant role and the fact that no terrorist incident has happened—yet—at any of these premises tends to accentuate laxity. People tend to find it easier to react to terrible experiences they have been involved with, rather than maintain high levels of vigilance against events they have yet to experience.

And yet, as we have noticed from elsewhere, terrorists have to succeed only once to inflict untold long-lasting physical and psychological damage on an entire society.

Today’s terrorists are nothing if not professional in scouting their targets in order to identify security cracks that they can exploit for their murderous ends. And so a stitch in time in our overall security preparedness, as they say, would be able to save us a lot of grief.

Those responsible for our national security need to step up their sensitisation efforts and also work closely with places of high public frequentation like markets, banks, schools, hotels and supermarkets to get them to step up their security arrangements and to maintain their levels of vigilance.

Keeping up such a high level of alertness day-in day-out forever is very hard, especially as the metric for success is a negative that is difficult to prove is directly related to those efforts-preventing something bad from happening. But it is absolutely essential.

Mwene Kalinda

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The security guards at the entrances of our establishments in Kigali are more of a decoration than anything useful. That said, I would not criticise the male guards for not checking women though, as a woman, I would refuse to be frisked by a man.

I think the rule applies to female guards checking men too. There is no need to add sexual harassment to the list of failings in this field, this is another issue that needs to be fixed.

Faith

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