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Promasidor Malawi strengthens security
Following a spate of armed robberies in Malawi we have embarked on an exercise to turn the premises into Fort Knox.
Initially, we concentrated on making it difficult to break into the office at night, as the robberies were taking place at night when gangs of 50 plus came with angle grinders, axes and rocks and literally smashed everything to gain access. We have a reaction unit that takes eight minutes to get to the property and so we only had to hold them off for the required eight minutes, which was not too difficult. But as the gangs became bigger and bolder, we had to further increase security at night after the reaction team were attacked by the gang and a vehicle totally written off, as they tried to escape.
So we brought in armed police at night as a further deterrent - only the police are permitted to carry guns in Malawi (and clearly the criminals). We succeeded in making ourselves more secure than other organisations and so the gangs moved onto softer targets for a while and then they changed tactics and decided to enter the office during working hours when the firing of guns made us more co-operative and ready to do their hard work for them. This led us to realise that we needed to upgrade security during the day and reduce access to the office.
We now have 5 strands of electric fence above our wall. CCTV cameras at the gate, entrance to the office, along the access road, entrance to each warehouse, workshop and fuel depot to be able to monitor what is happening. The cameras record 72 hours of data at a time.
Laser beams across all windows and doors of the office and warehouse send a signal to the reaction team if anybody comes to within 1m of the beam. There's a bullet-proof entrance door to the office with an automatic lock that can only be opened with fingerprint access, a bullet-proof vault in which the safe is kept and a bullet-proof cashier's window for customers to use to pay for their goods. We have almost completed the building of an outside shelter for customers to use whilst paying, as well as armed police on duty during the day and night. The restricted access at the front door is also useful for reducing unwelcome officials who tend to pitch up without warning as nobody is permitted access without a prior appointment.
It has been a costly exercise with lots of dust and banging going on, but we feel it is worth it for peace of mind and we are surely more secure than most in the area now and hopefully security will improve within the country so that we can reduce or eliminate the need for armed police in the not too distant future.