Cash-strapped South Sudan has spent millions of dollars on Israeli surveillance drones and security cameras aimed at fighting rampant crime in the capital Juba, officials said Monday.
The first two drones and 11 cameras will be deployed by Israeli company Global Group, President Salva Kiir said at a launch event.
Criminals “can now be traced and they cannot get away with crime,” he said.
“All the planes at the airport will be safe. Everybody can be screened wherever he or she is going,” President Kiir said, speaking at the drone control centre at a police training centre.
Kfir Shilder, project manager at Global Group, the Israeli company behind the project, said ”It will be safe for everybody residing in Juba,“ President Salva Kiir said at the system’s launch. ”Those who snatch things…in the streets can now be traced, they cannot get away from their crime.”
Africa’s youngest nation has been gripped by a four-year civil war pitting forces loyal to Kiir and his former vice president Riek Machar. Fighting has killed thousands, displaced hundreds of thousands and battered the economy.
In recent months scores of people have been killed in Juba as robbers, sometimes wearing security uniforms, rampage through the town, snatching valuables and attacking homes at night.
Some Juba residents have collected cash to pay police unofficially to patrol their neighbourhoods.
Since the outbreak of a fresh civil war four years ago, South Sudan’s oil-based economy has all but collapsed, further impoverishing an already poor population, while the ongoing conflict has uprooted a third of the population and pushed millions more to the brink of starvation.
Edward Dimitiri, technology director at the Interior ministry, would not put an exact price tag on the project, which he said was costing “millions of dollars”.
The first cameras will be fitted around the State House, the ministerial quarter and the airport. But Mr Dimitiri admitted that sustaining the project might prove a problem for the government. “Our challenge is money… how to manage or sustain this system. As you know the country is in crisis,” he said.
In June this year, An estimated 6 million people, half the population, were expected to be in a “crisis, emergency or catastrophe situation” and next, 500,000 more than in May, the report by government and U.N. officials said.