Restoration Of 999 Emergency Help Line Is a National Gift For Kenyans
That it took intervention of high court for Kenya police service and telephone service providers to restore emergency police help line is a clear indication our national conscience on matters security was as dead as a dodo. But civil rights activist Mr. Okiya Omtatah reawakened our conscience. He filed a successful law suit from which national police service and telephone companies were compelled to restore emergency help line-999.
Coming against the backdrop of rampant insecurity that has hit a crisis level, emergency help line will definitely curb and foil runaway incidences of crime. Imagining vulnerable families being attacked in my sleepy and innocent village of Es’sumba in Central Bunyore and in many other villages across the country is traumatizing to say the least.
But by the reinstatement of 999 emergency help line, help will literally be in our hands. By their word, we will hold police accountable. We have believed what they said. That by dialing 999 or 020 272 4154 or 020 355 6771, help will be available. Lives and property will be saved. Crime will be foiled. Suspicious activities and people will be reported.
Yet, for reciprocal emergency service to happen, police must up their game and respond precisely within shortest time possible. In my opinion, emergency phone conversations should be recorded and its contents be saved and be available at request just in case it becomes indispensable evidence in a court process. But police must be wary of retaliatory attacks from thugs and therefore be armed at all times. During recorded emergency conversations, police must remain professional. Otherwise civil lawsuits and negligence cases may turn against police officers.
By and large, members of the public should receive 999 gift with seriousness it deserves. Emergency help line is simply what it is, emergency help line. We can only dial the number if indeed we are in dire need for emergency service. Emergency needs include and are not limited to when our lives are in danger from robbers, when disease or health complication arise, when fire tragedy occurs and/or when attack that may cause bodily harm to self or others is detected. In such situations, we must call for emergency help. But calling emergency help to say “hello” is misuse of this critical line. Moreover, it will be abuse of emergency help line to make a prank or a non-emergency call.
All things considered, national police service must be patient. It will take a little longer for the public to internalize the decorum of this help line. It will be mistakes of gigantic proportion for police to dilly dally when emergency help is required. In most cases, Kenyans have complained that when police are called to attend to an emergency, they ask for “fuel”, a coded word for a bribe. That shouldn’t happen. It is a “crime against humanity.”
That’s why the government must play its role by providing each police station with fueled “on call” police cars and at least one ambulance. Police must be ready and be prepared all the time. Emergency help dispatchers must be awake, “fired up and ready to go.” Additionally, police service should draft laws and have them ratified. These laws will regulate the use of emergency help line and give the public a clear sense of direction. All things considered, restoration of 999 emergency help line is a national gift to citizens.
By Jacktone Ambuka, a Kenyan residing at State College Pensslyvania USA. You can reach me by email [email protected] ,