Quick security risk analysis of your personal environment

Matatu - openbaar vervoer in Kenia


Your security is your responsibility at all times wherever you are .Whether you are within the confines of your home at night,earning a living at your workplace during the day,doing some shopping at your favorite mall in the afternoon,keeping fit in the gym down the street in the evening or commuting to and from work in a personal car or a matatu.You are your own best keeper.

With some-or most-of the above environments and situations, we have the right of choice to be in them or not.And as we make those choices,our personal security should be in the  list of the important factors, alongside distance,price,taste etc,that inform our choices of these environments and situations.Even in the few cases where our freedom of choice is limited,the understanding of the security risks around us will still enable us make other possible steps in order to secure our personal safety.Like making our concerns known to the relevant  authority for action,for example.

But what are the things you look out for when determining and analyzing the security risks,or lack of it, within your personal environment of operation?

1)Risk avoidance– check whether there things going on or present that can endanger your safety but do not even need to be there in the first place.It must have not skipped your memory that when Nakumatt Downtown went up in flames,and many people lost their lives,it became clear that the damage could have been less if filled gas cylinders were not housed within the premise.There are many other security risks that can be avoided if some harmful substances and activities that do not have to be around are kept away.Recently there were reports in the media of works producing sparks being carried out near petroleum storage and transportation tanks of Kenya Pipeline  (KPL) with no regard to the danger posed .That is one example of an avoidable security risk that you should look out for.

2)Risk reduction-check out for steps taken to cut effects of disaster when they occur.This includes,but not limited to,fire extinguishers strategically placed,usage of signage with clear and non technical language,having skilled human help at hand like well-trained security guards,metal detectors and well labelled exit doors.First Aid kits are also an important part of disaster preparedness.For a vehicle,road worthiness,driver fitness-drunkenness- and properly installed safety belts are among the things you should look out for before entrusting your life to it on the road.

3)Risk retention-This is the hardest risk analysis to carry out.Because this is about policy that has no physical evidence.The facility management should have a policy of accepting responsibility for risks within their jurisdiction.The only way to find out about this is by studying the organization’s past handling of crisis.

4)Risk transfer-In a nutshell,this has everything to do with insurance covers taken for various risks and various stakeholders.If you staff your interest will run from medical cover to workman compensation insurance cover.Depending on type of business,clients have different insurance covers.Evidence of these covers are usually displayed as per legal requirements. Kenyan law requires all vehicles to have taken insurance cover,including third party.It is prudent to not only use cars-including PSVs- that have valid insurance covers, but also make sure the activities within the facilities do not breach the insurance policy e.g overloading.

Failing to make a quick analysis  on these aspects of risks and risk management around your personal environment, might come in very costly on you.Of course,it is not possible to have an ideally safe personal environment, but trying to lower the risks of breach on your personal security, even if minimally, makes a difference between life and death


Six tips on getting the best guard service deals in Kenya.

Security Guards

Security Guards

Guard service is the major security product that is offered by the majority of players in the physical security industry in Kenya.With poor statutory regulation of the industry, it hard for one to pick a service while assured of the basic technical and professional standards from among the many companies.But the following six factors, if well considered will make your work of shopping for guard service easier:

1)Membership of the service provider to the industry self regulating association Kenya Security Industry Association has a charter and a code of conduct that seek to set standards for industry.It also has mechanism through which customer complaints against members, for under delivery, are handle.Narrowing down your shopping to members of this association will give a head start

2)Financial cost viz value for money- The saying ‘cheap is expensive’ is most relevant  in guard service  than anywhere else .Majority of providers of this service in Kenya offer very cheap services by outright contravening labour laws, at least as far as remuneration is concerned.What you pay to the service provider is important, but also the amount from what you pay that will reach the pocket of the man or woman who will be stationed at your home or premise, should concern you.A poorly paid guard will supplement his meager earning by either working elsewhere instead of resting and turning a corner of your premise his bedroom or from your property,whichever way, making you not to get value for your money.If your budget is constrained,you could make do without a guard and invest in a good alarm system from a service provider with an efficient and effective emergency response component.Better still,you could do an in-house recruitment.

3)Recruitment and vetting of the guard personnelThe importance of criminal background check can not be overestimated.A security firm that gives quality service will not only insist on certificates of good conduct from their prospective employees but will also liase with the Central Investigation Department (CID) to make sure that only people with clean criminal records are put in charge of the clients property and life security.The criminal background is a process that you should apply too if recruiting in-house security guards.

4)Training both initial and follow up-Security guards should be empowered with skills that will make them more efficient in their work.Basic training for security guards include public relations,countersurveilance,firefighting and emergency communication.Bomb threat detection and general terrorism is also relevant if they are going to work in places accessible to many and possible terrorist target like hotels and shopping malls.Keep off firms that recruit and deploy directly.A security firm should also have a curriculum and a defined training period.

5)Supervision and monitoring-It is of the at most importance to outsource guard services from a service provider who integrates efficient supervision, both physical and electronic, into their product.The firm should have provable mechanism of monitoring the movement and activity of their staff when within their post of duty

6)Communication systems and equipment-In order to have an effective guard security service,the guard at your home or premise has to be a component within a security system.This security component( the guard) has to be connected to others,like emergency response teams,police,firefighters etc, through communication systems .A lone ranger guard with no communication is as useless as none.It is now standard that your guard is armed not with the old-fashion whistle only,but with emergency communication gadgets like Remote Panic Buttons(RPBs) radio etc.

Little research,asking friends and a requesting in advance for information from security firm you will find the most right service provider with guard service that can detect,deter,see and report.

Kenya’s public cluelessness on administration of first aid and general disaster management

Traffic collision Xixiang shenzhen China

Recently, as I walked along James Gichuru road,near Lavington Green shopping center,I spotted a van dangerously parked in the middle of the road with all its blinker lights on. About ten meters behind it, a stop sign was neatly stationed.A head of the car, a small crowd was milling around what i suspected to be another victim of  Saturday/Sunday morning accident curse of James Gichuru road.With drunk drivers speeding from drinking sprees,it is normal to come across accidents on Saturday or Sunday morning along James Gichuru.

At a closer range,i could see that the van belonged to an alarm response crew of one of the security firms.

Then i saw him.He laid on his left side in a zigzag position,the left hand gave his head a pillow support.The right hand stretched across his thigh.A pool of blood formed on the road,just under his legs.His black trousers and navy blue shirt were muddy and bloody.He looked dead to me.

I Gathered from those who were there before me that it was a hit and run.Everyone just stared cluelessly.Unexpectably,he struggled and raised his head, visibly, with a lot of pain too.He looked around with drowsy eyes.He could not hold his head raised for long.He gave up and went back to the sleeping.

Someone wondered aloud how the guy could be helped.Typically Kenyan peculiarity,no one dared touch him.The security guys were back in their van.They seemed to be making some communications with their phones and radio.

‘Cant someone do something’,a woman asked.People made inconsequential movements.Just changing position.Embarassed ones stepping back and new arrivals jostling for a better view of the victim.None was taking control.

Unable to take the guilt any longer,I approached and stooped over him.

‘Where are you hurt’,my voice was shaking.

‘I think my left leg is crashed’,he replied in a faint voice.

‘Do you have a phone with you?’,I bit my lip.It is a wrong question to ask an accident victim.I rephrased my question as I frantically got my phone from my pocket in readiness to help in calling for help,’Have you called anyone like a relative or friend to tell them of your predicament?’

‘Yes.My employer.He sent those guys in the van’.

I could not believe it.I was infuriated.All along I thought these were just good Samaritans who were trying to negotiate with their bosses to allow them get out of their duties to take a victim of road accident to hospital.

I broke the news,of the relationship between the van and the victim, to the now bigger crowd.Everybody was up in arms.

‘How can you just watch your colleague suffering in pain down there.What are you waiting for before taking him to hospital?’ I confronted the guys in the van.The answer that I got left me speechless.

Their argument was that every road accident is a police case and being so, the police had to come and inspect the scene of crime before anything is moved,yes including a seriously injured person.These are the guys who are expected to attend to various emergency situations.They were as ignorant and clueless as anybody else.

After much protests from people present,at last they bundled the injured colleague into the van and sped away.

That is a typical accident scene on Kenyan road.This can be replicated in other emergency situations like fires,bombs blasts etc. Clueless,full of ignorance and inhuman,is how you could describe it.Few acknowledge that every minute in scene of accident defines the difference between life and death.Even when the first to arrive on a scene of accident are aware of the importance of time in saving victims,they are totally unskilled to take any meaningful life saving steps.

Many deaths can be prevented with a more informed and skilled public in matters first aid and disaster control.

First aid and disaster control education should be made a mandatory subject from early childhood education to tertiary institutions.That way a society able and equipped to accidents will be developed.But that will have to go through along rigorous process of consultation,policy formulation,fund sourcing……etc, before it sees light of day.

The late Proffessor Wangari Mathai used the story of the hummingbird to rally people in their individual capacities to do the little they can to change bad situations.Each one of us should decide to be a hummingbird and try to acquire first aid and disaster control skills.Also impart the same to others.We can start by teaching our kids at home how to handle those small injuries and emergency situations.By so doing,we will be building a first aid and disaster control skilled society one person at a time.

Kibera slum Sub-Chief turns slum tourism into a cash machine for himself and his ‘boys’

English: Slum Kibera in Nairobi, Kenya.

Image via Wikipedia

Slum tourism is a form of tourism that is cutting a niche for itself in Kenya and Kibera (Nairobi) is the pioneer tourist site of this kind.But again,it is still controversial.There are issues to do with morality of people coming to look at the people living in abject poverty, as when they look at wildlife in game parks .

Meanwhile,people are making money out of it.Some in  very unorthodox means.Among those in this category,is a Sub-Chief  in Katwekera.He has created a syndicate, comprising of some youth gangs, that demands for a protection fee for any white visitor to the slum from the tourists handlers.Failure to which such visitors are attacked and robbed of their valuables.There are alleged cases.In one such case,some German tourists were attacked after their guide failed to make the payment.The good thing, though,is that the youths issue warnings in advance (mostly in form of threats) to those known to bring visitors to the slums.

If you plan to tour Kibera,especially if you are a white man/woman,ensure that your guide has made prior arrangements.He has to visit the sub-chief’s office and declare his intention to bring visitors to the ghetto and make the necessary payment to him (call it a bribe or protection fee,whichever term appropriate)

Friday and Saturday nights’ accident curse on James Gichuru road.

Road blocked by landslide

All night long jolly partying.You would expect or even wish that that is the only way to describe Nairobi’s Friday and Saturday nights.But just wait until you make a tour along  James Gichuru road in the preceding mornings, then you are sure to come across evidences of the ugly side of the nights’ merrymaking.You will not miss to see, if not a wrecked car waiting to be towed,a street light smashed by a fast-moving car obviously out of control of the driver or worse still,victims(Mostly poor pedestrians and cyclists from and to work in the lavington neighbourhood) of the Saturday/Sunday curse of James Gichuru road,some dead and some injured.You get a feeling that traffic rules cease to exist during this period and on this particular road.

The director of National Agency for the Campaign Against Drug Abuse (NACADA) Dr. Frank Njenga is on record saying that the number of accidents in Nairobi increase drastically over the weekends,in particular Friday and Saturday nights.This is as a direct result of increased number of drunk drivers on the road.

With the danger of being involved in an accident on your way to or from having a good time lurking,it is only advisable and important that you think of your safety before going out on an evening.But,even before that,you should decide whether it is really necessary for you to be out there in the very unholy hours of the day.You might be a careful and sober driver on the road but you become a victim of the judgment errors of other road users.Your safety on the road depends on the vigilance of the other road users as much as your own.

If you do not have to go out on Friday or Saturday night,it is better to keep off the roads of Nairobi,James Gichuru included.But If you must have a night out,it is best to stick by a few precautionary steps.Plan ahead of the night out.This includes making up your mind whether to drink or not.If you have to drink,do not drive, the alcohol content and volume notwithstanding.Get yourself a cab or if you are in a group,have a designated driver.This can not be over emphasized.

A night out,even if it is on Friday or Saturday, should not come at the price of your safety and that of others.A party is one that starts well and ends well for all.


On Sunday,15 April 2012, early in the morning(Around 2am) a VW Golf and a Landcruiser VX collided along James Gichuru road.Two young men in one of the cars became the latest victims of the weekend accident curse on this road:Waweru and Silvano(Son to Gladwel Otieno and grandson to Wambui Otieno).