Once again this got me thinking about something that has become a recurring theme in my thoughts. The individuals taking part in corrupt activities have been arrested and will be replaced by more individuals. And I am willing to bet whatever is in my wallet today (about two thousand bob I believe) that the exact same corruption will resume almost immediately. Why? The system is broken...or rather.. the system that is in place relies upon the diligence, honesty and integrity of the individuals operating it.
Now what we need at the weighbridge (and numerous other public institutions systems) is a system that does not rely on individuals' qualities. I am not talking about robots and fairies or something that would cost a ga-zillion shillings to create. It is something that is relatively simple to do in many cases.
Take the weighbridge: First, you could make the road such that all trucks (vehicles over a certain width) are funneled to the weighbridge. Next ensure that all vehicles that drive on this path actually go over the weighbridge. Then have a camera system that activates everytime a vehicle drives over the weighbridge. This system can take a photo(s) of the truck (including number plate). Have the system print out two copies of the truck photo as well as weight or whatever details are required. One copy can remain with the truck (and be prominently displayed) while the other stays for records. You can even incorporate a system that sends the truck details to an offsite control centre or to forward points for verification. You can make it such that the system is never off or logs its on/off times or even needs supervisor input to be turned off (in case some cheeky scallywag decides to just switch it off for certain trucks). You can make it mandatory for all trucks to display their weighbridge printouts.
Now with this system, you will still have the same people operating it, but you take the space for corruption away from them.
In other words perhaps I am a cynic but what we need to do in Kenya is not design systems for the best set of hard working devoutly religious and honest people, but design systems that will remain efficient even when operated by a bunch of bone lazy thieves.
This is not to say that everyone is a bone lazy thief..quite the opposite actually. But there are those amongst us who deviate from the norm and when designing systems that is who you design for.
When you design your home security system, you do not design it to repel your relatives who will hoot at the gate, ring the bell or gently knock on the door. You design it to repel the deviant gang of robbers who will try to break down your door with a rock. When you buy a swanky new car, you dont install an alarm system to keep your friends out..you install one to keep the deviants out and to trace the car if the deviants do take it. What our systems design often seems to amount to is driving a swanky car to a rough part of town and leaving it with all doors and windows open with keys in the ignition and a shiny laptop in full view on the rear seat and hoping nothing happens. Hoping that the people who see the car are honest enough and decent enough not to steal the car or the laptop or both. Well we do not exist in that sort of utopia.
With this in mind, I think that we need to change focus in our "Fight Against Corruption". How much corruption stems from poor systems? I would say the majority of corruption we see would disappear with better systems. Perhaps we should marry the KACC and the Efficiency Monitoring Unit and really give the resultant organization power to go in to places, examine systems and processes, identify weak areas and recommend changes to ensure that systems do not rely on individuals qualities. Once we have redesigned systems, it becomes easier to see where the deviants are and root them out.