Two years down the line, Matatu CCTV execution remains a security lip service

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How much crime would be avoided by installing CCTVs in Matatus? This is a question the public service vehicle owners asked themselves back in 2013 a time Kenya suffered terrorist attacks in Public service vehicles.

Anderson Kapendwe CEO Spy and Track surveillance company pitched the idea to the right industry players and they liked it. The system offered to vehicle owners enabled them to view live happenings in the vehicle from any location. The installations were part of efforts aimed towards lessening crook behaviour in the public vehicles and mainly help reduce terror attacks. Not to leave out the driver, the system enables him to monitor ongoing activities in the matatu.

A missed point

That was totally a great idea and if i was the government, i would run with the innovation make it a basic requirement to make transport secure in the country. NTSA however did not warm up to the idea as anticipated.  Fast forward to the beginning of 2015, Matatu Associations embraced the idea and installed these systems that gave Kenyans a sense of comfort riding in the vehicles.

Fast Forward again to mid 2015, these Closed-circuit television systems in matatus physically exists but are technically dead. The problem is definitely not the system but the control team that is not expert. Once the industry fully warmed up to the idea, the camera’s became a funk and not really a security measure.

Conductors and drivers now turn the camera’s on and off depending with which side of the bed they wake up from since they are not monitored by authorities and if questioned for this, all they need to do is part with a few coins to dodge further interrogations.  Many notorious drivers and conductors in the city have been part of most car hi-jacks and thefts in the past and being an obvious way of making easy lump sum money, CCTVs here become a hindrance.

In most cases where individuals have been drugged in matatus for easy theft, this two players have been in the middle of the unfortunate happenings. Therefore giving them authority to monitor and control these systems already makes the security efforts a losing battle.

I have riden in these fancy PSVs around town and i can tell you for sure the alleged security cameras are off most of the times. To satisfy my curiosity, i sort to ask a conductor why they were off and the sly smirk on his face made me look like a fool asking a question i probably know an answer to. In dismissal, this conductor of the matatu operating in the eastlands of Nairobi where thuggery cases in matatus are rampant claimed the system needed to be fixed claiming the technicians take long to attend to them. well, i took that with a pinch of salt knowing the obvious reason as to why the cameras were off.

If the National Transport and Safety Society is serious about this measure, they should man it to ensure expert control and monitoring. The authority should also train matatu owners on how to respond to happenings that may seem suspicious. so what if two men came in, snatched a bag from a lady and jumped off the vehicle in seconds? what role will the CCTVs play in such happenings?

Practical policies should be deployed if they fully embrace the security measure. Also, the authority bodies should quit being seasonal and implement such measures at all times. In this CCTV case, the dead cameras would go on if only another PSV attack happened today and the government ordered the systems be installed. Until then, Security begins with you.



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Winfred Kuria
Winfred Kuria is a self-constituted web content writer in charge of Tech News and Events Publicity at She will communicate in the simplest way possible with an aim of changing the world one mind at a time.
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