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There is need to address public safety and security issues

Tuesday August 27 2019

By MUTHONI THANG'WA
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Kenya has many public safety and security issues which if not addressed over time will lead to a chaotic society.

Public safety and security ranges from the complex issues of a government ensuring that citizens in their territory are adequately protected from both internal and external threats to mundane issues such as the voluntary proper conduct of citizens and the preventive measures put into place to ensure their protection from real danger or public nuisances.

It was shocking to watch Kenyans run to siphon petroleum from an accident scene of an oil tanker in Nakuru recently.

Hundreds of fatal injuries over the years apparently are not preventive enough to restrain the public from such behaviour.

It means that people need to be trained to think in a safe way, first for their own protection and that of others.

DRINK ALCOHOL

I was mortified to watch a group of youth drink alcohol on the SGR recently.

When a public organisation such as Kenya Railways allows inebriation in an enclosed space, who is responsible for public safety.

It is not possible to differentiate responsible drinkers from those who become public nuisance and or hazards to themselves and others.

A preventive measure would be to simply not allow alcohol consumption in the train.

There are way too many jaywalkers in Nairobi. Kenyans have an attitude that motorists are responsible for obeying traffic rules. But this is just a terrible misunderstanding.

It is critical for pedestrians to understand and obey traffic rules. Smart phones have only led to the proliferation of jaywalking, never mind that there are ‘specialists’ in this areas who dodge multiple vehicle lanes even on highways.

VIOLENT

Such people need to understand that they are the most vulnerable in that situation, ahead of the motorist and their vehicles.

The spread and use of social media is leading to a situation where the social engineering can be volatile and violent.

There are users who spread pranks that include different varieties of frightening the public to downright harassment of both women and men.

Such behaviour put the public at risk of bodily harm and the pranker in danger of physical violence and other unexpected responses from the target audience.   

The habit of sharing and spreading unsubstantiated information is also a public safety and security hazard. It can spread panic and irrational behaviour.

It is not that rare to watch social media clips of Kenyans, giving public health information, such as disease outbreak, traffic accidents or other unsavoury occurrences.

Posting such information first, gives one some sort of social prestige.

In public safe conscious societies such information can only be disseminated by authorised sources.

DISASTERS

Only medical personnel or public health officers should be able to announce a cholera outbreak for example.

Only the police and other authorised institutions should announce the fatal numbers from an accident scene or any other disasters.

Kenyans may laugh at the presentation, but this is a critical role in maintaining public safety and order.

An underrated public safety measure is the sharing of data. There are so many buildings in the city that require one to leave their national identity card and record their phone numbers at the entrance.

The government should outlaw, just anyone asking for custody of such an important document. The combination of an ID number and phone number can lead to all sorts of data hack and security leaks.

Previously, when one wrote their number at the entrance of a building, one was assured of numerous calls from con people, ranging from Mpesa to messages from alleged teachers in a schools.

There has to be a way to protect buildings without compromising the security data of every member of the public who access such buildings.

EXCHANGE DATA

The exchange of data between government arms and or government and contractors for whatever reason also puts the public at risk.

Customer information held by institutions such as Kenya power, Nairobi Water etc must be protected not only from hackers, but from slips by their own staff.

There are still numerous people being conned by people with information derived from these companies.

Whereas monopolies are free from the worries of customer loss, in future the same people who have access to these data could use it against such organisations.

There are other issues that are increasingly affecting public safety such as juvenile delinquent, public inebriation, inappropriate social behaviour and abuse of social media.

All these issues require not only enforcement, but their prevention would be best addressed through a heightened level of public consciousness.

Twitter: @muthonithangwa