A humanitarian/development worker, Mr. Fredrick Adu Anti, has urged the government urgently commence processes to review the current operations of Zipline and transition the service provider from a self-guarded civilian institution to an entity heavily guarded by Ghana Armed Forces or National Security.
According to him, the nature of the operations of Zipline makes it a sensitive installation in the country, as such, its operations, medical service delivery, must not be left in the hands of civilians in a lightly guarded environment.
His advocacy, sent to The Chronicle, comes at a time the United States Department of Defence has also indicated that drones meet the requirement of modern warfare.
Mr Fredrick Adu Anti, a co-host of the Africa Security Series on Clubhouse, buttressing his point, drew attention to what is happening in Ukraine.
He indicated that drones of similar delivery service at Zipline were used by Ukrainians to drop smaller but very destructive explosives to destroy equipment and supply lines of almighty Russia, cutting off much needed replenishments for effective advancement of the troops and equipment.
Referencing the above, Mr. Anti affirmed that “in the case of any insurgency in Ghana, where the nation would be mobilizing all available resources to counter the same, Zipline would be the most effective saviour and swiftest means with its unmanned ‘delivery’ service, this time not sending blood and medical supplies, but sending the right signals and explosive devices to ‘kiss’ the insurgents, wherever they may be hiding, in the forests, on the sea, and at the borders even before the armed forces get there.”
Visit to Zipline
He recalled his visit to Zipline in the West Mamprusi district, where he witnessed the dedicated team working to ensure that very much needed medicines were dispatched to very remote and hard-to-reach parts of the north.
He described how within minutes over five very critical flights were launched, with an opportunity given to him by the flight crew to proudly launch one.
As part of his mission to the facility, a collaborative arrangement was discussed and agreed for Zipline to support the eye health sector in Ghana to deliver eye medicines and surgical inputs to remote communities.
Worry After Visit
Mr. Anti said, although he was very much impressed with the work of Zipline, he had since then been worried over the safety of staff, whom he thought could be hijacked and their services used to commit dangerous crimes.
He cited crimes such as dropping of explosives, delivery of weaponry to robbery or organized crime areas and even hard drugs for the use of bad people.
His worry was heightened by the fact that the entire facility, deemed a civilian installation was guarded by a single security man from a private security company.
Reluctantly, Mr. Anti agreed to reveal his biggest fear, stating that, considering how key personalities, including the President, the vice and key state personalities like the IGP, CDS, mostly gather at one function, the security implications with regards to the drones must be relooked at.
He recalled the funeral observance of the mother of the Vice President, Dr Bawumia. “As usual, state protocol put all these important personalities under one nicely decorated presidential canopy for the occasion,” he observed.
Mr Anti recounted that less than 5km away, there was a lightly guarded (Zipline) civilian facility that hosted a large number of unmanned aerial vehicles that could deliver with precision ‘anything’ to any location as shall be determined by the GPS coordinates simply punched into their systems.
Mr. Anti thought: “it would have taken just a group of few bad people with weapons to take over the Zipline facility, force the civilian crew at gun point to punch in the GPS coordinates of the beautiful presidential canopy at the funeral grounds into the brains of several drones and load them with little but lethal explosives. The flight time for these silent messengers from the Zipline facility to the funeral grounds would have taken less than 3 minutes; the time between sighting the incoming fleet of programmed ‘death birds’ and their destination, would be within seconds, making it impossible to determine their mission; and before any of the security detail and their command centre would confirm a threat and think of an appropriate response, the ‘beautifully decorated presidential canopy’ and every living thing under it would only be fit for disposal.”
Mr. Anti is therefore calling on the President of the Republic to call for a meeting with all the heads of the security services, and experts to assess the situation, put immediate measures, with efforts continue the services of Zipline.
He recommended that all Zipline facilities be declared as security zones and allocate protective facilities appropriate, with all staff given the required reorientation and security training. The staff then must be re-engaged but this time technically under the appropriate security service e.g. Airforce.
He said there must be extra security on the facilities if the President is within the range of any of the drones’ flight zone; and most importantly, the manufacturers of the drones should provide a coded facility that could send self-destruct instructions to any drone suspected of inappropriate behaviour.