Parliament’s security cameras substandard – probe report

KIGALI - A parliamentary inquiry into alleged irregularities in the recent rehabilitation of the Parliamentary Buildings accuses the contracted companies for installing substandard surveillance security cameras, The New Times can report.
The front view of the parliamentary building in Kimihurura. A dispute has emerged over the installation of CCTVs in the building (File Photo)
The front view of the parliamentary building in Kimihurura. A dispute has emerged over the installation of CCTVs in the building (File Photo)

KIGALI - A parliamentary inquiry into alleged irregularities in the recent rehabilitation of the Parliamentary Buildings accuses the contracted companies for installing substandard surveillance security cameras, The New Times can report.

The yet-to-be-released report, compiled by a probe team headed by MP Desire Nyandwi, lays blame on Thomas and Piron, and Fair Construction, which jointly subcontracted Sekanyolya Systems Rwanda to set up a full-system of surveillance cameras, according to the report.

However, both the main contractors and Sekanyolya Systems deny any wrongdoing, each insisting that the work was done according to their respective contracts.

According to the report, a copy of which The New Times has obtained, Parliament contracted Thomas and Piron, and Fair Construction to do the renovation of the Parliamentary Buildings, and one of the planned activities was to install a state-of-art security apparatus.

Following the installation of the CCTVs, the Parliament requested the National Police to check whether the cameras were of good quality, it adds.

However, the report states, in a confidential report signed by the then acting Commissioner General of Rwanda National Police, Mary Gahonzire, it was concluded that the system was substandard.

“Part of the contract was to have infrared capability CCTVs that would work day and night, but this is not what happened and, according to the assessment done by the Police, the captured night videos are extremely dark and cannot be viewed,” reads part of the Police report.

It adds: “Cameras have a weak power adapter that has the capacity to store power for a short period in case of a blackout, while the video recorders and screens have no power backup. Whatever cameras capture when there is a power blackout is useless since there are no recordings and can’t be viewed on screens.”

The parties had agreed that the video recorder should have ‘Video input 32’ which implied that the recorder should have the capacity of operating 32 cameras at once, but the supplier installed X-16 DVR, which has information recoding capacity of operating only 16 cameras.

Apparently, X-16 DVR has capacity to store data for only seven days and, according to the Police report, Parliament needs a bigger video recorder that can store data for over 30 days and with data backup.

When the Police carried out the assessment, it was realized that there were two important spots that were left out while installing the CCTVs.

Under the general observation section, the Police report indicated, the cables connecting to the X-16 DVR were very exposed and posed a threat.

However, the Managing Director of Thomas & Piron Rwanda, Coralie Piron, refuted the claims, insisting that the work was done according to contract. “This was a joint venture between us and Fair Construction, and everything was done as agreed with our client,” he told The New Times.

Efforts to reach representatives of Fair Construction were fruitless by press time.

The Country Manager of Sekanyolya Systems Rwanda, Henry Zizinga, also refuted the allegations, adding that his company, instead, incurred extra expenses which were never compensated.

“First, when we finished the work, we had no one to hand over to; it was after four months that we received the first communication,” Zizinga said.

A different report, by Deo Rubongoya, the Contract’s Manager, also indicated that 99% of the work was effectively accomplished, save for the poor night vision and the 32 cannel issue.

But Zizinga claims that the night vision issue was also fixed after the matter was brought to their attention.

“I had to change all the cameras and reinstall them with infrared to have night vision, but those who were supervising the work had no notion on how CCTVs operate; they wanted to have coloured images at night yet night images come in grayish colour,” said Zizinga.

He also noted that, the consultant who supervised the work wanted cameras with capacity to zoom in a range of over 100 meters, but the funds released were not sufficient for that type of equipment.

“Before we signed the contract, I presented two proposals to the consultant who was in charge of the project on behalf of Thomas and Piron, and Fair Construction; the first one involved installing a highly advanced system, and another proposal was on a low cost system. They chose the latter,” explained the Sekanyolya Systems country manager.

He added: “The system we installed was commensurate to the amount (of money) stated in the contract, but at a certain point we had to incur more costs outside the contract because our main aim was to provide Parliament with a high quality security system,” he said.

Zizinga instead accused the main contractors of not paying him all the money they agreed in the contract. “The contractors (Thomas and Piron and Fair Construction) still owe us Rwf2.7 million,” he said. The total cost for the installation the security system was about Rwf8 million
In a separate assessment report on the CCTVs by M&E Services Engineers, a copy of which The New Times obtained, an expert, Felix O. Gyan, indicated that the work was done efficiently.

The report, titled ‘Commissioning of the CCTV camera system at Parliament’, reads in part: “The eight cameras installed together with the central processing unit and monitor at Parliament…are fully operational, and Emmanuel Bakunzibake, the Chief of Technical Maintenance at Parliament, was trained on how to operate them.”

Bakunzibake also signed the assessment report.
When contacted, MPs Nyandwi and Julienne Uwacu (the vice chairperson of the probe committee) declined to comment.

The damning report, which includes several other alleged irregularities in the Parliament’s renovation process, is due to be tabled in the Chamber of Deputies anytime soon.

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