PLANS are underway to hire armed guards to man all sector-based savings and credit cooperatives, better known as Umurenge SACCOs, to minimise incidents of robberies as has been across the country, officials have said.
This was said, yesterday, in a meeting with Rwanda Cooperative Agency (RCA) and all SACCO managers in Kigali.
The meeting sought to discuss how Umurenge SACCOs should be provided with physical security, how to stop embezzlement of people’s savings by employees and how the cooperatives should be digitised and use ICT for efficient service delivery.
The SACCOs, which are based in each of the 416 sectors in the country, have experienced series of robberies in the past and this has raised concerns among the general public and the management about the safety of their savings.
Appolo Munanura, RCA director-general, said the move aims at ensuring that SACCOs, just like other financial institutions, are guarded professionally to minimise losses due to robberies and ensure that clients have trust in them.
Referring to the recent cases such as of Rulindo where robbers killed one unarmed guard and injured another before fleeing with Rwf4 million, Munanura said time has come to hire competent and professional guards.
In July, another security guard was shot dead when suspected robbers attacked Kigali Sacco in Nyarugenge District.
Last year, robbers broke into a local savings and credit cooperative in Rubavu District and killed an unarmed guard and injured another.
Although other commercial banks are likely to be targets of robbers, it has been observed that the SACCOs, which are normally guarded by unarmed guards, have increasingly become soft targets for the robbers.
Figures of how much has been lost in the robberies on SACCOs are not readily available at the moment, but Munanura said what is important is to prevent more cases of robbery on SACCOs.
“We all know the impact and the role SACCOs are playing in society, Umurenge Saccos are local banks with similar characteristics as those of other banks and are growing faster, therefore the way they are managed should be the same as those other banks,” said Munanura.
He said for this to happen, RCA has contacted a private security firm, ISCO Intersec, to provide guards to all Saccos.
The contract, he added, would go into force soon.
“As RCA and managers present here, we are all interested in strengthening SACCOs and it is time we hired competent armed guards so that whoever thinks of savings cooperatives as soft targets think twice. Ensuring security might be expensive but insecurity is more expensive,” he added.
According to James Harera, head of guarding services department at ISCO, the company has personnel and resources to ensure that all SACCOs are guarded in the near future.
He said the company is responsible for whatever theft in case investigations reveal that a hired guard was involved.
Some SACCO managers said, much as they need armed guards, the proposed Rwf160,000 per month was too prohibitive as they don’t generate huge profits.
For the contract with SACCOs, ISCO reduced the fee per guard from Rwf180,000 to Rwf160,000 per month.
“SACCOs shouldn’t be charged the same amount as big commercial banks or other more established firms,” said Jean de Dieu Hakizimana, Kanombe Sacco manager.
“I am wary SACCOs upcountry might not raise the security service charges since they hardly generate profits,” said Alex Muhorane, manager from Rugarama SACCO in Burera.