Kenya’s capital Nairobi and the Indian Ocean port city of Mombasa are the first two beneficiaries of a security upgrade contract the Kenyan government has signed with leading local telecom company Safaricom.
The contract, awarded under the single source rules which allows government to bypass the often challenge-prone multi bid tender awards, will require Safaricom to install hundreds of CCTV cameras, bring in the latest technology like facial recognition software, create a national command and control centre and link nearly 200 police stations with that base in what can only be described as the most revolutionary security upgrade ever undertaken in Kenya.
Government and country, rattled by needle prick attacks with IED’s and grenades, following the full scale terror strike on the Westgate Shopping Mall last year, has in particular Kenya’s tourism seen take a nose dive and this crucial sector, while needing a range of countermeasures repeatedly described here, also depends to a large degree on the perception of the destination being secure to avoid anti travel advisories which have in the past impacted on travel to the country.
Safaricom, according to information now available, will import a system very similar to what the London Metropolitan Police are using to monitor the city and the subway to bring Nairobi and Mombasa to start with into the 21st century vis a vis security installations.
Tourism sources were swift to applaud the move, which could see the project come on line by late this year already, with one saying: ‘This is a good thing because from airport or land borders to the cities, entry points can be controlled. I hope they link immigration data with the system to have full intelligence on who enters and who leaves. Maybe this will restore some of the battered reputation we are suffering now after this series of incidents and tell our source markets that the security of their tourists is our highest priority. Also, there are of course more measures government can take and one is to put more boots on the ground. Patrols must take place 24/7, regardless of rain or sunshine, day or night and the issue of petrol running out should never arise’.
The announcement came just days after the Kenya Airport Authority had awarded a 6.5 million US Dollars contract to an Israeli security firm to boost surveillance at the region’s most important airport, Jomo Kenyatta International.
Slow as it at times seems, these latest projects are at least a sign that the powers that be have recognized the need to take immediate action and use the same technologies deployed in the Western world, in Japan, China and elsewhere.
In a related development though did Kenya’s Inspector General, more and more perceived as a man who lacks good fortune as well as good judgement, come up with a kneejerk reaction yesterday when he demanded that within 24 hours all tinted windows must be removed from cars or the drivers would risk arrest and detention of their vehicles.
Considering the equatorial location of Nairobi and the often glaring sun, tinting windows is often times seen as the main measure to keep the sunrays out of the car and Kimayo’s directive has already met with yet more acid commentaries on the social media timelines where he has become a punching bag for public opinion after one of his utterances has gained him added notoriety. His second directive though, that passengers of public service vehicles must now be screened, alongside their baggage, received wider acceptance as it was seen as a more concrete measure to prevent future incident involving busses and matatus.
stern African region.