Mind the bomb in the plastic bag

What’s in a black plastic bag and has wires sticking out of it?
In Nairobi today, that is probably a crude bomb.
The Bomb Disposal Unit will tell you that the best thing to do is step away and inform the authorities, who I assume will then ask the BDU and their little robot to come over and have a look.
What if you’re in the traffic jam at Pangani on the second lane on the highway part of Thika Road?
Close the novel and mark the page with the blue and white Prestige Bookshop bookmark, feel the thing with your shoe and look discreetly at the contents of the plastic bag.
That’s what I did a few mornings ago in a matatu I was in, and the Bomb Disposal Unit or my friends in the KDF would certainly not be happy with what I did because that is honestly a very foolish thing to do, isn’t it?
It certainly is and I tell this little story as a bad lead-on to the point I want to make; that if we are to deter terrorists, then we certainly must take it upon ourselves to do the job, not leave it to the trained people alone.
When the crews of the matatus that were bombed on Thika Road were dragged to the courts and slapped with bonds of Sh5 million, the sages on Twitter and Facebook put up their scrawny arms and protested. The Matatu Welfare Association came in with the assertion that the job of the conductors and touts is to collect fare, not check their passengers for things that go boom. Dickson Mbugua’s crippled argument was that the matatu crews have no idea what a bomb looks like and would therefore not know it if they saw it.
So that if say, the makanga on the matatu I take home saw a package with loose wires poking out, he would think the bearer is a mechanic or a radio repair man taking it home or back to his customer.
That is how bullshit sounds and that is why I was for the idea that the crew of the Jeean Bus and the Mwiki Sacco Bus that were bombed should have been allowed to spend a little time at Industrial Area and see how bedbugs and lice look like and practice the classic art of crushing a hardened louse between the thumbs.
Why?
Whenever you board a public service vehicle, you literally place your life in the hands and feet of the matatu crew.
You pay them, enter a contract for your safe transportation and then hope that they will get you to your destination in one piece. That they will not allow the vehicle to roll, that they are sober and sane enough to avoid crashing into a tree or another vehicle and they will stop it so you can alight and go wherever you’re going safely.
Drivers who cause accidents end up in court because they endanger or even end lives. Similarly, drivers who carry exploding devices in their vehicles should be made to bear a similar responsibility. They should be made to ensure they don’t have harmful things on board.
When you think about it, what do you carry in a bag that is so private that you wouldn’t mind a total stranger seeing? Pads and tampons? Nobody will open your letters or look through your wallet. If the metal detector keeps beeping, kindly show the man what it is you have in your luggage.
Of course this won’t stop the fellow who really wants to blow us up from doing so, but it might deter him. To this I would add a constant awareness of our surroundings. Had the bombed buses been operating in a more organised way, and we all know how crazy the Paradisos, Jeeans, Maranathas and Tuxedos on the Guthurai 45 route are, they surely wouldn’t have been sitting ducks that Sunday.
As Scott Gration said at the National Prayer Breakfast, “a safer and more secure nation is everyone’s responsibility, not just the job of the security forces.”
That’s from a man who has been in the security forces and was in the Pentagon when the third hijacked 9/11 airliner slammed into the side of that fort. His fighter jet also once stopped 100 feet short of slamming into the ground. He’s also a white American and we seem wired to pay more attention when a lighter-skinned foreigner dispenses advice.
Also, we know very well how our police operate.

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