Ishtiaq Zafrullah Image Credit: Supplied

Our readers have always been active, and it was no different this month as more of them took on the role of community reporters. Whenever our readers notice an issue being faced by their community, they shed some light on it through their writing and photographs.

The community reports in September focused on issues ranging from wastage of water and littering to insufficient services like roads and bus stops.

Gulf News appreciates the efforts of all the enthusiastic community reporters.

Today we acknowledge and award those community reporters whose message stood out among the others.

The community reports published in September were judged by Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed.

The criteria for selection included content, issue, impact on community, responsibility and the quality of contribution.

Warning over hot containers in cars
September 12
By: Ishtiaq Zafrullah

Reason for selection:
This community report highlighted a serious issue and served as a reminder to people with regards to taking precautions when storing such items.
Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed said: “This is a very good community report. It has very good news and awareness value. The issue of leaving pressurised containers in cars is something everyone needs to be cautious about.”

Ishtiaq Zafrullah is a mechanical engineer in Abu Dhabi and when he witnessed a can bursting out of the rear window of a car in the parking lot at his workplace, he immediately shared this message of caution with Gulf News.
He said: “It’s everyday awareness for the public to know and understand their responsibility towards the community as well as the environment.”
He also felt the community reports were beneficial for the public.
“The column provides the opportunity to convey messages to the public in a simple and effective way. The community reports’ real time description and photographic proof appeals to every reader,” Zafrullah added.

Waste left behind in desert camps is a hazard
September 13
By: Siby Koshi

Reason for selection:
In a place where proper food isn’t freely available, camels often do not hesitate to enjoy a snack when they come across one. This report highlights the need for people to properly dispose their rubbish, as not doing so can have dire consequences for our animal friends.
Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed said: “This is an old problem that continues to be an issue and all of us need to actively address it, as we are responsible for our environment.”

Siby Koshi, an account manager in Sharjah, sent us her community report after witnessing camels eating waste left behind by campers. She pointed out the danger this poses for the camels, as it can lead to “an agonising death” for the animals. Koshi said that the authorities have a responsibility in this, but people are also to blame for their laziness and carelessness. This community reporter urges all people to complete their duty to “ensure coexistence with the animal world”.

A reality trip with commuters
September 10
By: M.M. Ebrahim, Jad Aoun, Suman Shafi, Mohammad Arif and Maciek P.

Reason for selection:
This community report brought attention to a lot of issues commuters face on a daily basis. Senior Hub Editor Meher Murshed said: “This was a good package as it brought together several problems and helped highlight the matter in a strong manner. All the community reporters need to be commended for their effort.”

M.M. Ebrahim’s community report highlighted the extremely long queues for the bus to Abu Dhabi at the Bur Dubai station. He explained how commuters had to wait in lines of 200 to 300 people for nearly 20 minutes. After his community report was published, the Road and Transport Authority (RTA) immediately addressed the issue and increased the frequency and number of buses to Abu Dhabi.
Ebrahim said: “The community reports are important because they solve problems for lots of people in the community. The long queue was actually addressed and solved after my report was published.”

Jad Aoun, a reader in Dubai, shared his experience as a bus commuter, especially in the hot summer season. He pointed out the shortage of bus shelters in many high-traffic areas and shelters that don’t have air conditioning at all.
Aoun feels that community reports “are a great way for people to get their local issues heard”. “They’re a great platform for the community and it would be great if follow-up reports can be done to see if the issues have been addressed.”

Another community reporter who focused on the lack of air conditioning at bus shelters was Suman Shafi, a student in Dubai. Shafi said that some of the shelters didn’t have working air conditioning, which is especially a problem when bus schedules force commuters to wait in the sun for long periods of time.
“The community report section has always been good and interesting to look at because it is always helpful, in many ways. It focuses on the problems people are facing in their community,” said Shafi on the positive effect of community reports.

Mohammad Arif, a commuter in Abu Dhabi, also agreed that people are often forced to wait in hot weather because of malfunctioning air-conditioners and faulty bus shelter designs. “The main problem is that doors are automatic, so if you stand near the door, inside or outside, they stay open and that is a big problem for air-conditioners.” Arif said that community reports are a great effort and platform for citizens because when the community faces any problems, they can be resolved with the help of feedback or opinions.

Maciek P. is a Dubai-based community reporter, who commented on the lack of space at each shelter, forcing people to stand outside in the sun. In his report he said: “The design of these bus stops is ineffective. They reduce the amount of space inside, so only a few people can sit and there is no space for people to stand.”