RNP started using drones a fortnight ago in its public awareness and enforcement, to supplement other measures such as use of social media platforms and other media channels as well as Police vehicles mounted with public sound systems.
According to local leaders, Kigali dwellers and traders, drones have impacted on how people behave and exercise safer practices today in relation to preventing the spread of the virus.
“We used to go jogging every evening as a family, we didn’t know that it was also prohibited, but we heard the message on the drone which was hovering over our home,” said Charles Iyaremye from Kibagabaga.
Another resident from Nyirabwana in Kimironko, Clement Nyiridandi said that he heard about applying for movement clearance online, from the drone.
“It was previously a challenge to ensure that the message reaches some congested residential parts of Kimironko like Nyirabwana Village in Kibagabaga cell. Unnecessary movements and unsafe practices in shops, outdoor sports activities especially people jogging in the evening in Kibagabaga were common,” said Jean Sauveur Kalisa, the executive secretary for Kimironko sector.
He added: “Our vehicle mounted with public sound system couldn’t reach these areas because of roads. With the coming of drones, which are directed to such congested places, today we can say that these drones have made big impact; we rarely see these unnecessary movements out of homes, shops have also prevented customers from entering as they are served from outside where they stand in respect of social distancing; movements in groups involving people from the same family are also rare.”
The drones which have in-built mega sound speakers trek in the remote parts of Kigali, residential areas, markets and trading centres spreading the message on coronavirus.
According to RNP, messages are delivered depending on the situation in a specific area, where they are deployed.
“Drones main perform two duties; public awareness and enforcement. With in-built camera and sound speaker, a Police officer can communicate to people seen loitering on streets, in outdoor sports activities and those seen in unnecessary movements, to vacate and go back home immediately and where necessary officers are deployed to enforce the directives and arrested made, where necessary,” said RNP spokesperson, CP John Bosco Kabera.
Some bars located in remote parts of Kigali, whose owners had breached the directives, were identified by drones. In this period, all bars are closed.
“Our vehicles mounted with sound speakers had failed to reach these remote and inaccessible places because of roads, which used to be congested and with unnecessary movements, these prohibited practices have tremendously gone down,” he added.
He, however, urged the public not to leave their home to view the drones; avoid gather in large groups where drones are delivering the messages.
“Stay home; protect your life, your family and others. Apply for movement clearance online and use it for the intended purpose, avoiding gatherings, wear face masks and observe social distancing. These contribute to saving lives and facilitate national efforts against the pandemic."