Preparing for the Worst: Protecting Your Business during Riots

The recent strike by students of the University of Nairobi marks a dark time for us as a nation: our future scholars, teachers and leaders have found it necessary to take to the streets in a bid to be heard, taking precious time away from their academic timetables and even interrupting end of semester exams.

Justified strike or not, one truth remains: as has happened during past demonstrations, property will be destroyed. For supply chain managers, this is a worrying time in deed: with vulnerable warehouses in the path of rioting youth and delivery crews dispersed across the city, any logistics player would count themselves lucky to escape unscathed. How, then, can we minimize our risk while the strike continues?

The first step logistics firms can take to protect themselves and their assets in case of a riot comes long before the actual event: insurance. Specifically, riot and civil commotion insurance can be procured to protect property from damage arising as a result of a violent disturbance involving three or more people, as defined by most business dictionaries.

Major insurance companies in Kenya have provisions for such coverage for commercial properties, personal and business vehicles, or residential buildings and their contents, inclusive of rental units. While policy rates vary with risk, as with any other insurance cover, supply chain managers operating in areas prone to such upheavals will find it worth their while to invest in such covers as it may mean the difference between compensation for destroyed business premises and having to file for bankruptcy.

Also a preemptive measure would be to enlist the services of a reliable security firm to help temper the effects of looters or vandals. While a few security personnel may not be able to completely hold back rioters, their presence may help to at least discourage the faint of heart, or apprehend culprits on their way out.

Similarly, warehouses and vehicles should be outfitted to resist such attacks, with security measures in place to help protect cargo en route to delivery or awaiting shipping. Staff in charge of vehicles and stationary facilities can also be given training courses on how to handle such high risk situations to ensure not only the safety of property and assets, but also preserve the life and good health of the staff themselves.

Supply chain managers should also see to it that internal policies for dealing with riots, strikes and their aftermath are in place. This guarantees that the breakdown of the rule of law around a logistics firm will be met with swift responses within the company, pre-decided upon under the advisement of disaster management experts.

Such policies include protocol for locking down warehouses, alternate routes to direct delivery crews on to avoid rioters, agreed upon convergence points both in the field for vehicles on assignment and within the warehouse grounds to allow for tallying of employees and dissemination of strategy on the way forward. Where clear protocols have been laid out for what to do in case of such violence, early action can be taken to reduce losses to the company and safeguard employees and property.

While we all pray for a speedy conclusion to the upset between the University of Nairobi students and our police force, we must do what we can to ensure that when the dust settles, our businesses can continue to operate and thrive. What remains is to watch, wait, and hope for the best. Stay safe this week, won’t you?

The Fountain of Knowledge at the University of Nairobi. The University started admitting first year students on May 20, 2013. SALATON NJAU/Daily Nation

The Fountain of Knowledge at the University of Nairobi. The University started admitting first year students on May 20, 2013. SALATON NJAU/Daily Nation

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