Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Saturday, January 15, 2011

On duty on and on

Mrs Shirin Paul and Mrs Myna Bhagat

A couple of days back I went to The Park Hotel to attend a dinner hosted by Mrs Shirin Paul (picture), Chairman Emeritus, Apeejay Group. The pre-eve dinner was hosted to mark the Literary Festival from January 14 to 18, 2011.
While approaching from the Russell Street there was a queue of four to five cars in front of the Hotel gate around 8:10 pm passing through the security check. The invite said that the Governor and his wife would be at the dinner at 8:15 pm. I saw a policeman running towards the security guards who were checking the cars as per the routine security drill that we see in all five star hotels in the city since 26/11. All of a sudden, the two cars before mine, as well as my car, were allowed to proceed without any security checks. Not even a peep inside to see who the occupants were.
I was quite taken aback by this fact since a momentary lapse could cause a major hole in the entire security system. I think allowing cars without checking just to ensure that the Governor’s entourage passed without delay had actually jeopardized the Governor’s very own security. It is not that The Park has hired a security firm that is not working well. The fact is that lack of professionalism among the security companies and their high demand have left us with no choice.
Last week, when I called up the extension number of the security guards posted at my residence at 11 am, the phone went unanswered. I tried three or four more times and nobody attended the call. I called up another extension number and asked why the guard wasn’t picking up the phone, my driver informed me that the guard was fast asleep. I came down personally and saw that he was in a deep slumber. I woke him up and asked him why was he sleeping at such an odd hour. He told me that he was on duty for 12 hours continuously through the previous night.
I realised that this man was also on duty at my residence a day before which meant 30 hours on duty at a stretch and it was obvious why he was sleeping. What surprised me was the fact that this guard is from one of the best security service agencies in the country - Group 4. When my staff asked the company officials they said that it was the guard's choice to do night shifts for some extra income. If this is the case with one of the leading security agencies, I shudder to think what the state of affairs would be like with lesser agencies.
A momentary lapse of security and working at a stretch for beyond 24 hours without sleep by security guards for extra money is contrary to demands of their profession. It defeats the very purpose for which they are hired. Allowing such kind of lapses, for which the guards may have themselves volunteered, is highly unprofessional practice on part of security agencies because in their line of job it may be a matter of life or death of the people they are suppose to protect and serve and also to themselves.
I remembered another incident. I saw the same guard, who helped me at the parking at one of the city malls around noon time during the day, while coming out of a restaurant around mid night. It is like duty on and on.
The cost of availing security services has shot up rapidly in recent years and there is a huge demand for a range of quality security services. But getting reliable services remains a question.
ess bee

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