Citizens mindful of their city

Posted by Raashida Khan on 13 December 2016 10:35 AM CAT

As I walked through Delta Park yesterday, I saw a gentleman throw a bag of dog poo in the bin on his way out. I thanked him, because this is a rare occurrence. Up until a year or two ago, the parks were dog poo-free. People were conscious and had a conscience. They walked with plastic bags and cleared up after their dogs. Not anymore.

There are hundreds of people who use the park regularly to walk their dogs and with their families or friends. It feels very safe. One is relaxed to enjoy the luxury of green in the heart of the city. These are truly magnificent spaces - the water interludes, the mini forests, dams and pathways, happily coexisting with the cyclists and runners.

This is just one example of the lowering of standards that has become starkly noticeable these past few years. On the other hand, if we all were responsible, the little effort it would take to do the right thing would go a long way.

My other bugbear is how people consider rules of the road as suggestions these days. I must candidly confess that I have become lax too. It seems that everyone gets away with not yielding at circles or other misdemeanours, and the attitude is ‘well, if you can’t beat them, join them.’ If this trend continues, our roads, already scary, will become even more dangerous.

I’ve noticed too, unpleasant issues at the airports. Just a few years back, one rarely saw litter in the buildings. A couple of months back, I noticed a dropped packet of slap chips, with runny tomato sauce, at the boarding gate. A passenger must have dropped it, but was not bothered to pick it up. Even though it was noticeable, no staff member thought to call for a cleaner to attend to the problem.

Two weeks ago, I requested a management team member from a large retail outlet get in touch with me, as I needed to discuss an issue relating to store policy. The attitude of the store assistant left me unsure he would forward my details. Maybe he did. Till today, I have not had any revert.

‘Minor things’, you may say. And, yes, you would be right. All the little things do add up though. If we don’t address the little things, they grow. Bigger things will become insurmountable.

If we want to improve the status quo, we should exercise our rights and fulfil our duties as citizens. This means engaging, highlighting the issues, and offering alternatives. In a similar vein, when good or excellent standards are observed, these must be celebrated. I freely compliment and am appreciative of good service received. I ensure management is aware of this too, if possible.

I doubt I am alone in this lament. The hundreds of websites devoted to complaints are testament to that. No point in complaining only. Let’s be positive. Take a stand. With the advances in technology and social media, it has become easier to rant and rave. The same technology can relay positive messages. Reviews are often the most viewed pages on company websites. The more sophisticated ones, use this feedback not only to address issues of service, but in overall evaluation, and strategic planning. 

This means that we, as citizens and consumers are enormously powerful. Use this power effectively. I commit to being vigilant in observing traffic rules. If we each act responsibly, we could turn the tide.



 Raashida Khan is Account Director at Indigo New Media, has lived in Johannesburg for more than twenty years and loves the city.

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