Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Fire them, don't hire them

For quite some time now, I've had the #BetterPenang app installed on my iPad2. This is an application that's also available to Android users, and what it does is that it opens an avenue to make complaints, suggestions and ideas to both the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) and the Province Wellesley Municipal Council (MPSP). The app was developed by volunteers but has the support from both the local councils.

Until about eight, nine or 10 days ago, I've never used it to lodge any complaint with the local councils. That changed about a week before the Chinese New Year holidays when I noticed that the drain along my road was chockful of brown leaves and there was even empty drink cans that had been discarded by irresponsible visitors to the neighbourhood.

When a week passed by without any sign of anyone coming to clear the drain, my wife asked me to make a complaint to the MPSP. And that was how I decided to give the #BetterPenang app a second look.

My complaint was posted to #BetterPenang right after the Chinese New Year but several days passed without any action taken. Thereupon, I made a second complaint as a follow-up to the first one.

I was wondering as to the effectiveness of this app when on the seventh of February, I noticed two workers from MPSP walking along the length of the road and digging into the drain. So now I know that the local councils actually do respond to the feedback through this app.

But I was curious. Why did the council respond so late to my complaint and indeed, after only two complaints were made? I went up to one of them to ask, but of course, after thanking him first. "Thanks a lot, bro, for clearing the rubbish from the drain. How often do you all do this kind of thing?" An innocent but loaded question.

"Actually," he said, "this isn't my job at all. I'm here as a back-up only. Somebody had complained and because the contractor had not responded, my boss at the MPSP asked us to look into it as quickly as possible."

Which again begged another question: if this job has indeed been sub-contracted out to a contractor and he is not doing his job, what is the MPSP doing about it? It is not only a matter of clearing the drains which I know, definitely, have not been cleared for a very long time but also a matter of sweeping the road where I stay on a regular basis. I know for sure that I hardly ever notice any sweeper along Lorong Jernih 4. A once-a-week sweep of the roads is not enough. Should be done daily, not weekly. And the MPSP should demand that their contracted workers all do their jobs properly. If not, sack them, terminate the contract, whatever. Give this job to some other companies that are hungrier.

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