January 26, 2019 was a day like any other in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. A vibrant evening, business is going on, people rushing to take positions in matatu queues, hawkers marketing products, heavy traffic and cars hooting from all directions.
To one man working as a handcart pusher, this was an evening full of business opportunities to make money. He was well positioned at Nairobi’s Latema Road ready to receive customers as usual and transport their goods. The middle-aged man was approached by a male customer to help ferry goods, including a box, from the Baba Dogo bus stop to the Kenya Cinema bus stop. As they were nearing the junction of Latema and Tom Mboya Road, the client claimed he had forgotten his ID at nearby MPESA agent and rushed off, leaving the cart puller waiting.
Shortly after he left, a loud bang was heard as the goods being ferried exploded, sending everyone around in a chaotic dash for dear life. Leaving the cart pusher and a vendor nearby injured.
A terrorist attack is the last thing one might be tempted to think of while undertaking one’s daily chores in offices, at home, while shopping in malls or when in a church or mosque.
It is crucial to understand that prior to an attack, a lot of work and detail must have been done in coordinating a terrorist incident. Like other criminals, terrorists need to plan and prepare, buy and store materials, and find ways to fund their activities. Much of this is done in view of the public.
Understanding one’s environment, suspicious items, people or activities that might suggest a possible terror threat is a major way to curb terrorism.
Observing vigilance requires one to be aware of suspicious looking characters conducting surveillance on buildings; taking pictures, observing entrances and CCTV installations is crucial. Such incidences should be reported! Kenyans can take part in preventing terrorism acts through understanding the signs and behaviours of terrorists and being vigilant about their activities both online and in their surroundings. This means reporting acts such as people conducting suspicious transactions, having multiple identities buying unusual quantities of chemicals for no obvious reasons and chemical handling equipment such as googles, masks and gloves.
The handcart case reminds Kenyans that terrorism is a daily threat we face hence the need for vigilance. We should build a culture of vigilance and be cautious on hidden, obvious or typical items around us and take necessary precaution measures.