Nasuha Kitchil is an executive assistant, based in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Supplied/Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Highlighting key problem areas raises residents’ awareness and helps bring burning issues to the attention of authorities

It’s always on the list of dinner conversations — a perennial thorn in the side of most residents in the UAE. Bad driving knows no borders, but can it be stopped?

Our winning community reporters explored key problem areas and dug deep for solutions. It was an issue that they felt was important, relevant and required immediate attention.

Today, we acknowledge and award those who shared their experiences and brought this significant matter to the fore in March.

Over the past year, the Your Turn page’s Community Report section has highlighted myriad subjects that concerned residents and helped alert the authorities about matters that required urgent attention.

Topics of concern ranged from garbage in the desert to the need for more facilities in parks.

Readers have found Community Reports to be the right platform to create awareness and turn the spotlight on situations that generate interest and truly impact their lives.

Raising important questions, seeking answers from the relevant authorities and highlighting social issues take effort. And community reporters do not hesitate to prod and poke, if it has a chance of making a real difference.

The community reports published in March were judged by Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed. The criteria for selection included content, issue, impact on the community, responsibility and the quality of contribution.

Winning report: Stop speeding, opt for safe driving
Date published: March 17, 2011

Reason for selection:

Focusing on key problem areas across the emirates and contributing suggestions together helped show that the issue of bad driving is not only limited to one city or area.

Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed said: “Excellent initiative of displaying community reporting. Several readers came together to highlight aspects of the issue, thereby creating a more powerful impact. We encourage other readers to follow their example and make a difference.”

Profiles of the winners

Sonam Bhoneshwar is a student of Manipal University, Dubai, and a resident of Ajman.

She said her community report had an immediate effect.

“There has certainly been change within the area I had mentioned – near the Gulf Medical Centre traffic signal in Ajman. A third lane was constructed and the road was broadened to help motorists proceeding left from the signal. This has surely reduced the chaos and allowed more vehicles to take the route simultaneously.”

But the reader is still displeased with the way people are driving in the area. She said: “In spite of the service being provided, there are still vehicles which line up in queues, causing congestion and violating traffic rules. Ultimately, it depends upon every individual to consider it as their responsibility to maintain lane discipline in order to avoid mishaps.”

Vinod Babu is a senior accountant, based in Sharjah.

In his community report, he pointed out that motorists were often inconsiderate when taking the exit to Emirates Road from the Sharjah Ring Road.

Unfortunately, the situation there still remains the same. He said: “I regret to mention that I could not find any change in the area and remedial action has not been taken by the authorities so far.”

However, the reader is optimistic. He said: “I sincerely feel that community reports are a good platform as they help highlight many issues that readers would like to bring to the notice of relevant authorities.”

Mathew Litty is a senior customer service executive, based in Dubai.

According to the reader, motorists need to change their attitude – only then can the situation improve.

He said: “I have been driving in Dubai for the past seven years and can see a lot of difference in the driving habits of motorists. Now there seems to be too much frustration, tension, lack of understanding and respect, which is why I think motorists tend to drive in such a reckless manner, risking the lives of others.”

Community reports help create awareness about the problem, the reader said. However, it is up to the authorities to drive the change.

“Continuous monitoring on the roads, surprise checks of driving licences and registration cards of motorists and controlling traffic during peak rush hour will go a long way in making our roads safer.”

Nasuha Kitchil is an executive assistant, based in Abu Dhabi.

The reader’s report about driving without using indicators had a specific purpose.

She said: “My aim was to contribute to making Abu Dhabi’s roads much safer. I think it is the duty of every good resident to report such activities. By doing so, you feel that you are a part of that community.”

Kitchil said she found community reports to be the perfect place to voice her concerns.

“They help in not only getting messages across to other people but also to alert law enforcement authorities to act upon certain issues. It is also a reminder to people, from time to time, to think about their personal responsibility, safety and how they can improve their surroundings.”