All resources must be harnessed to fight armed robbers

28Feb 2016
Guardian On Sunday
All resources must be harnessed to fight armed robbers

On Friday armed robbers believed to be totaling twelve stormed the Mbagala Branch of Access Bank in Temeke District in Dar es Salaam where they managed to get away with around Sh30 million before disappearing into the nearby forest.

During the incident police managed to kill three bandits but very unfortunately the Police Force suffered as well as they lost one officer in engaging the heavily armed robbers.

We are also informed by authorities that two civilians died in the incident, including a security guard stationed at the bank at that particular moment.

According to authorities, the remaining six robbers managed to escape by storming the nearby forest at Kongowe while police impound six motorcycles they used to access the bank.

The shocking news about this grisly incident is that the assessment made by law enforcers seems to conclude that individuals involved in the robbery were not ‘ordinary people’ in the sense that they appear to have undergone special military training, including the use of combat weapons.

Police reports affirm that a special request would be made to use the military in pursuing the fugitives. The quest to use the military to pursue the suspects who are now at large is seconded by the fact that individuals involved in the robbery fielded a sub-machine gun (SMG) and hand grenades.

Much as we may argue over that application to call in the military in pursuing the fugitives, putting all available resources to combat evils is indeed good and must be supported.

Despite that some people may feel it is as if the government is overstepping but common knowledge shows armed robbers who use combat weaponry such SMG and hand- grenades are not ‘ordinary people’ and therefore they should also be pursued by people with experience and skills in field combat.

While the government ponders the way forward in conducting a manhunt for the armed robbers who escaped on Friday, it may now be ripe for the government to think about employing military units in conducting patrol in our cities. This idea in itself may not be new as several countries in the world use army units in patrolling their cities.

As President Magufuli’s government wages war against graft and laxity it should also throw its weight into charting out strategies to combat armed robbery. Today, an individual does not feel secure if he wants to draw cash from any given automated teller machine (ATM).

Nor do businessmen feel secure at their business areas since they have become easy targets by armed robbers in motorcycles. Something must be done.

One such plan of action was to restrict entry of motorcycles into the city centre where most bag heists were being done, while bank robberies have been fairly well scattered in the suburbs, one major robbery being at Ubungo NBC branch.

This time they struck at Mbagala, also far removed from the city centre and where motorcycles can be used without restrictions.
One plausible idea is installation of automatic responders when something suspicious is noticed, by installing ‘instant message’ device that alerts the police if some motorcycle suddenly is on brazen speed, for instance by video cameras along city highways, and then streets.

If such bugs were stuck on motorcycles for police to monitor their movements, owners of those motorcycles would be sure of spending time in cells when their bikes are used for criminal purposes.

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