Some in security sector frustrating virus containment measures

Police roadblocks remain ineffective as people bribe their way, or walk past the points with impunity.

In Summary

•We are unable to trace those within us that are risky populations, and those that for example engage in behavior that endanger others either are protected or bribe their way out of the situations.

•Yes its personal responsibility and behavior change for managing the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenyans have themselves to deal with the situation, cases are coming out that clearly show some people in the authorities have failed.

 

Police using dogs to barricade the gate of California Estate in Eastleigh Nairobi.Photo/Fredrick Omondi
Police using dogs to barricade the gate of California Estate in Eastleigh Nairobi.Photo/Fredrick Omondi

While the current containment measures on the COVID-19 pandemic in Kenya has combined both public health to military approach with little success results, it would appear ineptitude security and intelligence gathering coupled with impunity are the major stumbling blocks to the country’s interventions.

The latest move by the government in banning bars as a measure to deal with the raising numbers of coronavirus cases in the country will not add much, if what is happening within the communities around social gatherings, abetted by the security apparatus is anything to go by-these guys visit those informal alcohol dens including those brewing and selling mbangara, busaa, nguli, and mlingilo are fully operational, and police in some areas just come to collect protection money.

Once more the President reminded Kenyans of the personal responsibility and behavior change that is required during this pandemic, while both the national and county governments have tried in scaling up mitigation and treatment measures, we have failed terribly on tracing and assisting those testing positive humanely, and largely treat them as criminals, while on the other hand, those flouting the containment measures are treated like kings.

We are unable to trace those within us that are risky populations, and those that for example engage in behavior that endanger others either are protected or bribe their way out of the situations.

Yes its personal responsibility and behavior change for managing the COVID-19 pandemic, Kenyans have themselves to deal with the situation, cases are coming out that clearly show some people in the authorities have failed.

If people have flouted the Public Health Act, leave them face the law instead of benefitting from such by taking protection money. The health teams are doing their best within the worst, and we need to support them. How were restaurant selling alcohol past the allowed time.

The security teams have let us down for allowing impunity and facilitating spread of the virus through social networks, social gatherings and failure in assisting the health teams in tracing the high risky populations, or making the exercise a criminal enterprise. Its wrong for some police and members of the office of the President at the local levels to continue protecting those flouting such presidential directives, especially during such times like now.

It contributes to eroding respect for the Presidency in addition to endangering the lives of Kenyans. I am not sure the practical role the nyumba kumi teams are playing in helping in the reporting of such social gatherings or tracing of positive cases within the communities.

I compare that to how in bear selling joints in Uganda, like Nalongo, and Sofia in Busia Uganda are working well within the government directives, and you appreciate, why the police in Kenya involved in the protection of those hosting such social gatherings are frustrating the country’s efforts.

Given the recent directive on alcohol selling, while formal alcohol joints might follow the instructions, the informal selling joints operated by mama pima especially within the communities will not close. In fact the protection fees they pay to the authorities will be doubled, and more probably, more lethal drinks will be sold to Kenyans.

It’s a waste of human resources and a rethink is required, given the reality on how majority are disobeying measures such as cessation of movement from and to some regions, operation of social and religious places, curfew hours and general basic hygiene.

Along the roads, most of the screening is done serious, police roadblocks remain ineffective as people either bribe their way, use riders to dodge or walk past the points with impunity, making a mockery of the stops, people wearing masks below their noses while a number of washing/sanitization points remain without being used.

The complacency on the part of the authorities especially officers managing cessation check points into and from certain areas and Kenyans who seem determined to showcase impunity by breaking the government directives are indeed frustrating public health interventions to contain the pandemic.

Its true that the military approach to handling the pandemic is problematic, and has alienated members of the public from fully feeling part of the solution, we have no reasons to flout these measures simply because we are yet to lose a family member or close friend.

The situation within the communities is bad, and what some in the security sector are doing is frustrating the country interventions and lowering the dignity of the presidency.

Victor Bwire works for the Media council of Kenya