Still grappling with security issues

Editorial, Normal

The National, Thursday October 31st, 2013

 A GROWING economy, coupled with a rising urban population and lawlessness, has triggered off an expansion in the market for security services and equipment.  

The security industry grew quite rapidly from just a handful of companies in Port Moresby and Lae plus one or two in smaller towns to hundreds of firms of varying sizes today.

Security has become an expenditure item for nearly all businesses and organisations nowadays whether it be in the installation of sophisticated lock systems, electronic surveillance, electric gates, posting guards or providing armoured vehicle escorts.

One aspect of the industry that gets reported frequently in the news media is the men and women employed as guards by the industry.

Their bravery in the line of duty or perhaps collusions to commit crime, random assaults on members of the public or striking over pay and conditions regularly capture the attention of the media.

Security guards are tasked with ensuring public safety and protecting property against theft or vandalism.

Their responsibility and territory is determined by the paying client. 

It is a job that has its own obvious risks.

They are, at times, expected to help enforce public order and protection of property, especially within areas they are assigned to.

It makes no sense to see guards from a security firm engaged by the management of busy shopping malls to stand by as members of the public deface pavements and walkways at will.

Before the betel nuts ban in the city came into force, selling cigarettes and betel nuts at the two entrances of this shopping centre was a thriving business.  

On any workday, the guards there made no attempt stop people from spitting their betel nut chew or throwing rubbish around the mall gates.

The guards condoned the litterbugs throwing their rubbish carelessly and spitting red spray on the walkways. 

They  too, were a part of the problem.

It was a relief to see the entrances to the shopping mall cleared out since October 1. 

It is certainly not too much to expect of these guards to help in policing the ban now and assist with the general cleanliness of the city.  

This is the least the public and city authority expect of them. 

One other thing to be said about guards and their part in ensuring order and cleanliness is that there are no proper toilet facilities at some job locations for use at night.

Some businesses have guardhouses and toilet facilities but most don’t.  

As a result guards use secluded spots and bushes to relieve themselves.

Guards and others loitering in the night pollute what they see as secluded spots close to footpaths, street corners or bushes with their human waste.  

A security company operations manager said yesterday that some guards work in locations where there are no toilet facilities and are expected to go wherever they can to relieve themselves in the night. 

This poses a public health risk besides taking away guards, however temporarily, from their stations, the security manager said. 

The provision of basic facilities such as toilets for guards and a general improvement of their working conditions could help them do their jobs with pride.

They might then  go out of their way to help in areas where they are least expected to. 

It is quite unreasonable to expect a security guard in overalls and boots to squat in the open while guarding a multi-million kina shopping or corporate office complex during the night. 

Security issues will continue to be a major concern for private and government organisations in cities such as Port Moresby and Lae as the country enters the dawn of a prosperous economic era.

With the first production of liquefied natural gas starting next year, the PNG economy is set for a roller coaster ride that will attract positive and negative impacts.

Indeed, security will be the price to pay for such development as the country experiences an influx of people from the rural areas into major urban centres in search of work.

The rate of crime and lawlessness is expected to increase as the population of urban centres grow.

Businesses and the public will be hoping that the police and security companies will  adequately keep the peace .