A day in the life of a security guard

In the quiet wee hours of the night, there’s a silent sentinel always on the lookout. This unsung hero, is Paul Emwamu, a security guard at one of the arcades in Kampala City.

Born 30 years ago, Emwamu, a born of Soroti says he dropped out of school after completing S.4 and started job hunting.

“My parents didn’t have money to enable me continue with advanced level. I thought of a way forward and to this, I contacted a relative who was living in Kampala who helped me travel to the city,” Emwamu says.

He adds that on coming to Kampala, he started job hunting until he landed at a private security company that was recruiting security guards.

“Having completed S.4 and having a command of the English language, it was easier for me to be recruited and after passing the training course, I was ready for deployment.”

He says he was deployed to guard one of the busy arcades in the country’s capital and he always works on the night shift.

Typical day

Emwamu says his typical day starts at around 6pm when he reports for work to relieve his colleague who works during the day.

“I officially begin my night duty at 7pm and I am relieved at 7am, the following morning. However, all is not rosy during those 12 or 13 hours,” he says.

He says armed with a walkie -talkie, a flashlight and a semi-automatic rifle his day begins and to this, he has a secluded place where he usually sits in to closely monitor the building.

“From 7pm until around 11pm, I sit at this position which is not inside the building but adjacent as I closely monitor the proceedings. Whereas during the night there is no activity as the arcade is closed, one has to be alert.”

Emwamu says the time between midnight and 5am is the riskiest as this is when most criminals pounce on their targets.

“During this time, criminals know that as a human being, the security guard has taken a nap and want to pounce. If you are not alert, they might kill you and take the rifle.”

He says many of his colleagues have either lost their lives, had rifles stolen, sustained injuries or buildings they are guarding are broken into during this time when the guards have taken a nap.

The 30-year-old says his trick is that if he is to take a nap, he times it at around 9pm and 11pm so that between midnight and 6am, he is awake.

“To help me keep awake, I take coffee prepared from home and I move with it in a flask. To keep me warm, apart from the heavy jacket, I also make use of cigarettes.”

He notes that to ensure he fights sleep, during that period, he does patrols around the building and this also helps him to keep an eye on what is happening.

Emwamu says whereas his job doesn’t involve too much work, it is risky being on night duty.

“You at all times have to be alert or else the building might be broken into, rifle grabbed or even killed by thugs. On several occasions, my colleagues have been attacked while on duty. To ensure this doesn’t happen, I conceal myself a distance away from my beat that helps me monitor that is happening.”

He says at 7am, he is relieved of his duties as his colleague who handles day duty reports for work.

“I retire home and by 8am, I am home to take a nap. I sleep up to around 10am when I wake up to go help my wife at our small shop,” Emwamu, a resident in Nakulabye says.

He says when he reports at the family shop, the wife then returns home to prepare lunch and supper but also prepare to receive their six-year-old daughter as she returns from school.

Emwamu says by 4pm, he is returning home to prepare for the night.

“I feel proud of my job because it has enabled me fend for my family, pay school fees for our daughter and start a small shop.”

He however notes he hopes to return to school and pursue his dream career of becoming a lawyer.

“It might not be soon but I have hope one day I will become a lawyer.”

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