Yes, to increase efficiency
It is time for local security initiatives at sector level to be funded through collection of money from households. If not for the reason that crimes are getting sophisticated as days go by, the communal security initiative should be privatised to improve the economic status of members of the community who serve in them.
Under the current arrangement, money pooled from household contributions is used to pay night guards who patrol the sector/village armed with a club and a whistle (in case an offender is getting away).
The night guards however are informally trained, they do not undergo any kind of training to prepare them for the job. The only qualification for the job is being “masculine” and having the ability to lift a two kilogramme club.
Imagine how effective the security initiative would be if it was handed over to a private firm. It would be more than night patrols. It would improve on service delivery and increase the services offered by the security agents. As a private agency, it will be possible to have persons to hold accountable when there is a security lax.
The initiative would also benefit community members as a job creation avenue and imparting skills on community members who are to be employed in the firms. You do not need to have sat in an economics class to know that such business ventures lead to development of other businesses in the area, in turn, improving the economic profile of the area.
Beyond night patrols, the initiative can provide services such as fire fighting services, rescue services, installation of security systems, dog training etc.
The amount paid monthly would then depend on the services which a client requires.
Letting the security initiative remain as it is with the excuse that it serves the purpose as it is, is just being naïve and afraid of the unknown which is no way to build a society.
Letting the security initiative remain as it is will be the reason we have 19th century practices in the 21st century.
Currently the government is on a bid to work with the private sector for improved service delivery, why not hand over the security initiative to them?
Communal policing is the best
I think by now, most, if not all Rwandans, are accustomed to the idea of contributing a specific sum of money that is termed as “Amafarangay’umutekano” (security contribution) which every household is required to give regardless if they have private security guards or not. This money goes towards the welfare of the people who conduct night patrols (Irondo) in our communities.
Now, I must admit that with all these measures in place, we hear stories of people being robbed but we must appreciate these are not stories we hear every day, and in most cases; crimes such as robbery happen with assistance from an insider. I don’t think this is a case that should be blamed on community patrol services.
So, the debate on whether community patrol services should be privatised to ensure efficiency in service delivery is one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Obviously, both options (commercial or communal) cost the community, either in cash or in having an untrained and inefficient personnel doing community security work. If we take the option of privatising community security patrol, we have to embrace ourselves for high growth in private security firms and with the threat of rendering a lot of people jobless (communal security patrol is a source of employment), most communal patrol agents will join private security firms.
The overwhelming number of applicants, and with a high demand for security, will not allow for good training. Little time and high demand usually results into production of half-baked goods, and that’s exactly what we’ll get. Imagine, such people holding guns like KK Security or Intersec security? Besides, privatised security will be too costly because with more resources, improved training will mean added costs for some people.
However, communal security is affordable and I think it works out best when handled by people who stay in the area. These are cases that are handled by low-level authorities who find appropriate solutions without going into bureaucratic measures that might be implemented by private security firms.
What needs to be done is to offer basic training in security patrol because even if they are inefficient, communal security patrol has clear knowledge of what they can do if there’s any threat - from calling for help from existing authorities, to relying on their own resources in the event the existing authorities are either unable or unwilling to respond, to an interlocked supporting system with other communities using the same method.
This method becomes efficient when neighbouring communities have the same thoughts and are equipped with good structures and a self-controlled security model. However, communal security requires everyone to be involved and it also needs to be simple enough to work.
Security is not rocket science. It is everyone’s responsibility in times of threat. Planning a good system will help, and may give a level of comfort and confidence to a community.