Abandoned shopping trolleys pose many dangers to the community Video Credit:

Ajman: They pose public safety hazards. They cause losses running into tens of thousands of dirhams for retailers in the UAE. We're talking about abandoned trolleys.

Now, an Ajman-based Indian school group has launched a WhatsApp service to put an end to the menace posed by abandoned trolleys.

The “Spot and Report” service launched by the Habitat School Group encourages students and their families as well as the wider community to report trolleys they find within the community.

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Students are encouraged to report abandoned trolleys through the new WhatsApp service launched by the Habitat School group

People can send a photo and location of the trolleys they find in public places to the WhatsApp number +971 56 14 15 166.

Speaking to Gulf News, Shamsu Zaman C.T, managing director of Habitat Schools, said the management has tied up with various retail groups to inform them about the initiative.

“Now, anyone can report abandoned trolleys lying around in public places due to carelessness of some people while others struggle looking for these at the retail outlets,” he said.

The “Spot and Report” service launched by the Habitat School Group encourages students and their families as well as the wider community to report abandoned trolleys by sending their location and photo to WhatsApp number +971 56 14 15 166.

“When a school takes up such a project through its students, it reaches several families and that can make a huge difference.”

Social responsibility

The primary intention, he said, is to connect students to social responsibility tasks.

“It helps in changing student attitude towards the surroundings and instills civic sense and responsibility in them. Staff of supermarkets, hypermarkets and malls have to spend enormous amounts of time and energy going around spotting these trolleys and taking them back.”

Though the group has schools in Ajman and Sharjah, it has tied up with major retailers with branches across the UAE.

When a school takes up such a project through its students, it reaches several families and that can make a huge difference.

- Shamsu Zaman C.T, managing director of Habitat Schools

“We have received very supportive feedback from the retailers. They have shared dedicated numbers to report trolleys belonging to their groups when we get notifications about them.”

Partners in the project

Retail groups such as Carrefour, Lulu, Nesto, Xpressions Style-Safeer, Safari Mall, Ajman Cooperative Society, Kenz and Grand Mall have already partnered with the project.

Since the launch of the project on February 7, the service has received reports of abandoned trolleys belonging to these groups and others too.

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Another abandoned trolley in a residential community in Sharjah Image Credit: Atuiq Ur Rahman/Gulf News

“As and when we get reports of trolleys belonging to groups that are not yet our partners, we will contact them and make them a beneficiary of the project,” said Shamsu.

Habitat for tomorrow

The trolley recovery project entails a participatory programme in which teachers, students, parents and consultants of the Habitat Schools will join a social responsibility project titled “Habitat for Tomorrow”.

The project which encourages giving back to the society will include environmental projects for forestation, waste management and pollution control, community service including visits to old age homes, mental asylums, hospitals for the poor and bringing people together through conversations across cultures and social categories.

“Tomorrow has to be a tomorrow for every single one (person); together we grow. Habitat Schools are committed to that idea and Habitat for Tomorrow is our latest step for such a vision”, Shaikh Sultan Al Nuaimi, chairman of the group, said in a media statement.

The school already has a charity arm, “Habitat for Hope” and a unique summer assignment project “Let’s Grow this Summer”, through which 15,531 trees were planted, 15,439 hospitals/poor homes were visited and 53,946 new interactions took place with elders, the statement added.

What the retailers say

Dubai: While some countries have apps and hotlines to report abandoned trolleys, the Spot and Report WhatsApp service is the first centralised service in the UAE, said retailers who welcomed the service.

They said this will help them save money and also protect people and the environment from potential dangers posed by trolleys dumped haphazardly.

“There are two menaces because of people taking away trolleys and dumping them carelessly,” Saleem M.A, director of Lulu Group, told Gulf News.

“First, it creates a hazard for common people and traffic. Sometimes small kids play with them and get hurt.

"Second, this leads to a big loss of money as well. Each of our trolleys costs about Dh600-Dh700. Every night, our trolley boys go around in vans to collect trolleys from nearby communities. Still there are many that they don’t find. So, this service will be really beneficial to us.”

He appreciated the school management for coming up with the innovative project. “We have collaborated with various schools for various projects. But, this is really innovative and beneficial.”

Nahas Sainudeen, head of business development, Nesto Group, said the group is expecting to benefit the most as it has 17 branches in the two emirates where the participating schools are located.

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When you see a dumped trolley, you can now report it

“Each branch is allotted a certain number of trolleys. But every year, 30 to 40 trolleys are lost from each branch. Each trolley costs Dh450. If you take the case of just 10 trolleys itself, it is a loss of Dh4,500. Imagine how much of money is lost if you take the overall loss for all the branches of all the retail groups.”

He said the group had been fined by municipalities after their trolleys were left neglected on the roads. It had also received complaints from parents whose children were injured after playing with the trolleys. There have also been compensation claims from motorists whose cars were damaged due to trolleys found in parking lots.

Municipality welcomes move

Director of Waste Management Department at Dubai Municipality Abdul Majeed Abdul Aziz Al Saifaie welcomed the initiative and said it would help municipal workers save time and effort in collecting abandoned trolleys.

In Dubai, he said, the department’s workers collect abandoned trolleys they spot and store them at the site offices.

“We have site offices in different places…Satwa, Karama, Ras Al Khor etc. We have an agreement with some of the retail groups. When there is a sizeable number of trolleys collected by our workers, we inform the retailers. They come and pick up the trolleys from our site offices,” said Al Saifaie.

He said no fines are imposed on retailers in Dubai as the violation is committed due to “misbehaviour of some customers, not companies.”

What happens when trolleys are abandoned?

  • They cause a huge loss for retailers
  • Genuine shoppers at retail outlets can’t find them
  • Lead to traffic hazards when left behind on the roads
  • Children get injured when they play with them
  • Cars get damaged and morotists claim compensation