There are things that are bound to happen, no matter how hard you try to be careful, and today, the 26th September of 2014, my ID was bound to get lost for the third time in a year. No, I am not careless.
In February this year I lost my ID in circumstances I can’t explain. It was the second time I was losing my wallet and from then I decided to never carry a wallet with me. I applied for a duplicate which was given within three weeks. Then in late March the ID got lost, again. I applied for a duplicate at a time when the government was implementing the new generation ID card and this time round I had to wait for three months before I could get the new copy.
When I got the new generation ID in July I was very happy, that happiness you get from a satisfaction of finally receiving the long awaited good tidings – or the type you get when the play hard to get girl finally says yes, and I promised myself to be very careful with the new ID.
It didn’t take three months before the ID got lost in a way that couldn’t be prevented. I was in this mat headed to Ngong to alight at Uchumi Ngong Road which is near our offices. When the mat approached Uchumi the manamba called on passengers for Uchumi to get at the door in readiness to alight. When I got up this gentleman beckoned me and pointed at my seat – when I looked I realized I had dropped my ID at the seat. I stepped back, picked it, thanked the gentleman, and headed out.
Another gentleman from the same mat joined me on my walk to Nailab and told me how lucky I was to have been shown the ID as the process of getting a new one hasn’t been made any easier despite the existence of biometric voter registration kits. I narrated to him how I struggled to get that particular ID and how pleased I was that I didn’t lose another ID this time round.
In one two minutes I was at Nailab, talked with colleagues, did my other businesses and after thirty minutes I walked out, headed to the buses passing through Yaya to town and in not so long I was in town. I didn’t do anything in town except walk to bus station and take the buses to Kasarani. While in the bus and still waiting for it to pack to capacity, I decided to check my pockets to confirm if the ID was still there. It wasn’t. I called my colleague back in Nailab and asked her if she had seen the ID where I sat. It wasn’t there either.
So the ID was bound to get lost no matter how hard I could have tried to prevent that from occurring. This reminded me of Alexander Hartdegen of the movie The Time Machine. As Wikipedia explains in the plot, Alexander who “would rather do pure research than work in the world of business…devoted himself to building a time machine” so that he could go back in time and save Emma, his sweetheart who was killed by a mugger, from getting killed. “When the machine is completed four years later, he travels back to 1899 and prevents her murder, only to see her killed by a horse and buggy.” Alexander then explained to his colleague that there is no way he could stop Emma from getting killed as there are a million and one ways of her getting killed – maybe the thing he could have done is to travel to another universe where she wasn’t killed.
I must now come to terms that the ID is lost and there’s nothing I can do to prevent it from getting lost, no, not even if I had the power to go back in time. But there’s hope still, I probably can find it. This I say because I am sure I dropped it in the KBS bus I boarded at Ngong Road to town. I am optimistic because I think the Kenyan I sat next to would be willing to take it somewhere I can go find it – maybe in the lost and found board outside Odeon Cinema complex.
Or this fellow Kenyan could have handed it to the bus conductor, who, without any better method of finding me, must have decided to display it somewhere near the door of the bus hoping I would go back looking for it – or hoping I’ll use the same bus soon to commute back to wherever.
So many years ago I lost my very first ID. In search for it I tried the Odeon boards but I wasn’t lucky. I also lost another ID in a mat and I wasn’t lucky in getting that other one either. Actually I have been losing IDs year in year out and I haven’t been lucky to find any back, including the one I lost in my own house – who is this guy interested in my lost IDs?
But in today’s world of mobile phones we need to move on with technology and come up with a solution to “my lost ID” problem. There’s this young lady I was fond of in the year 2011 who had a brilliant idea to solve the “my lost ID” problem. She thought of a system where she could aid in collecting lost IDs and getting them back to their owners. Her idea, she said, would have allowed the government to save on the millions of shillings it uses to manufacture and process duplicate IDs each year, save the citizens the pain of living without an ID during the waiting period, and even save the citizen from the hustle required to apply for a duplicate ID. She didn’t run with the idea and this means you can pick it. If you want details of how the system can work, contact me privately.
We can however by pass the system by having a way to embed contact information on National and other IDs. This can be done by having the ID feature a QR code somewhere that can be scanned by QR reader (available for your smartphone for free – just download a QR reader app) to reveal the hidden contacts, then the owner of the ID can be contacted by the good Samaritan. The same technology should be applied in bank cards (ATM cards etc), job cards, and any other important document that can get lost – and found. I am stretching my imagination and thinking that probably the same technology could in a way save you and me from buying stolen gadgets.
QR codes on IDs is a long call. Before we can have IDs come that with QR codes, we already have a system that can be useful in finding thanks to the requirement that all phone numbers must be registered. Today almost every National ID card holder is known by Safaricom. If for example my lost ID could be given to Safaricom, Safaricom could input my ID number to their database and retrieve my phone number. Safaricom would then call me, tell me that my ID has been dropped to at their shop or center, and I should be able to pick it up any time I like. I for sure will go pick it up as soon as I possibly can.
Safaricom and the person who found the ID can also make some money from that service.
For a good Samaritan to be motivated to hand over the found ID to Safaricom shop/center, he or she should be compensated for work well done probably by being awarded some remarkable Bonga Points equivalent to 50 or so shillings i.e. 250 Bonga Points (see:The value of Safaricom’s bonga points). Then when the ID owner goes to pick up the found ID, he or she will be required to part with 100 or so shillings as a penalty for being careless and also for the services offered by both Safaricom and the good Samaritan.
Safaricom will not need to invest in any extra man power to offer this service. The only thing it can add is a storage mechanism where the handed in IDs will be kept and a filing system before the owners pick them up. Thus, assuming that only 1000 IDs will be lost and found each day nationally, then Safaricom stands to net in Shs 50,000 a day on the extra service for getting people their IDs back. That’s not a small amount of money. It actually translates to 18.25 million shillings a year or enough money to pay 30 employees a salary of Shs. 50,000 each. That’s enough money to cater for all employees in all major towns combined.