Taj Nabi Khan
FIX it if you can. The right to blame others even for minor things that are happening wrong in our surroundings has probably taken from us the right of fixing it. Some individuals, especially those with greater motivation, wish to become campaigners to bring about a positive social change or to serve the masses selflessly. However, on one hand, the number of such people in our society is next to none. And on the other, such campaigns along with the campaigners are either criticized, politicised or flopped to work.
The idea, ‘fix it’, has first originated in Russian city, Yekaterinburg in 2013. The city is the fourth biggest in terms of population, had a very poor quality of roads, although for more better than that of IJP and other adjacent linking roads in the twin cities of Rawalpindi and Islamabad. The citizens and local media often complain about ditches and holes on the road but it usually fall on the deaf ears of the stakeholders.
The local Russian website, ura.ru has decided to launch a campaign against those who were at the helm of affairs for their non-responsive attitude. The website asked the street artists to paint the faces of the governor, the mayor and the vice mayor of the city on three different potholes. The politicians who are more worried about their public images on the potholes asked for painting their faces without knowing about the hidden installed cameras on the sites. Later the recording witnessed the fact that politicians wanted to save their faces instead of filling the ditches. Thus the campaign fuelled on the website with the statement, “painting is not fixing it”.
The movement turned out efficient, getting the politicians active to address the issue on priority basis. Road potholes had been a major problem in many cities of Pakistan due to substandard material and lack of maintenance work. These ditches are more dangerous for two wheelers than four wheelers which often result in road accidents causing either death or sever injuries to the road users besides wasting time, affecting vehicle and traffic movement. After passing over the ditch, the driver is physically moved for making offensive remarks about system, stakeholders, and politicians.
The same kind of campaign was launched on social media by a PTI worker, Alamgir Khan, last year in Karachi. He drew CM Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah’s face near open manholes and uploaded the photos on different social networks. During this time, working with several supporters, he also covered up 42 manholes, made road repairing, and cleaned city’s walls. The objective of his campaign was to draw attention to the apathy of the officials towards their main responsibilities. The civil society, media and the educated youth has really showed interest to make the campaign successful in the city despite many hurdles were created for the campaigner. However, his work forced the CM to issue an order to the city’s administrator to cover up all manholes within 48 hours.
Lots of things could be improved, changed and enhanced with the help of self initiatives of highly determined individuals. The ‘fix it’ policy could be extended, enlarged, and to be followed by all at least for minor noticed or unnoticed issues being faced the common people. Such campaigns can also make the public conscious about their role, responsibilities, and rights as well as that of the government officials, national organizations, and public representatives. Those who are working for resolving the common man’s unnoticed or usually ignored problems are the real heroes of the nation. They are the ones who instead of making tall claims prefer to demonstrate their sincerity for bringing about a positive change to improve the overall social fabric of the society.
— The writer is freelance columnist based in Islamabad.