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Ashghal: Communication channels needed

February 20, 2014 - 4:48:21 am
The success of a service institution depends on the level of interaction it has with the general public and its commitment to honour its promise. 

This is true when one remembers responsibilities of such institutions — supervising, designing, implementing and maintaining roads, buildings and other infrastructure and completing projects according to plans. 

The Public Works Authority (Ashghal) is always at the centre of everybody’s attention given the fact that it is responsible for building bridges and tunnels across our country. In this capacity, the authority is responsible for building links with its audiences who include everybody. This is true when we keep in mind the growing relationship between the authority and people it serves. 

Small wonder them Ashghal is always at the centre of criticism and complaints, particularly in the media, at forums and on social media. It gets the lion’s share of the state budget, after all. 

Ashghal determines the movement of citizens and this sometimes can cause them hardship especially when projects are unfinished, or the digging all over throws up hazards, putting citizens and their families’ lives in danger. People get the impression that the digging is never-ending.

Some questions keep arising as the authority does its work, including ones about the reasons behind its failure to finalise projects according to schedule or close to schedule. 

We understand challenges Ashghal faces in finalisation projects, but we get bored with repeated failures of the authority in delivering projects and meeting contractual obligations. Citizens get bored with repeated digging around their homes under the pretext of renewing infrastructure, building pavements or making some places more beautiful. 

Most of the time equipment are taken away, leaving work sites in a condition worse than before they started working there. Sometimes equipment are left in fields for several months, at the risk of buildings and public utilities. 

Citizens refrain from painting the exteriors of their homes and working on their gardens lest they should be fined for violating laws. Others begin painting the exteriors of their homes because they know Ashghal will remain busy doing other things for a long time. Sometimes a few drops of rain show us the reality behind “international standards” of projects of the authority. 

In many cases, staff at the authority forget to put a sign showing the nature of the project they are implementing and the time limit for finalising it. Citizens worry as far as the duration of a project and its objectives are concerned, given the noise caused by equipment at the project site. 

Why does not Ashghal put to practice its beautiful slogans about transparency and communication with clients?

Now officials refuse to reply to questions raised by people on the popular radio programme “Good morning, my beloved country”. They refuse to answer questions about links between their work and that of other service agencies. This leads to delayed implementation of some projects. 

The public relations section at Ashghal plays no role in communicating with people though it has the largest space inside the authority and the largest share of its budget. How can Ashghal honour its commitments then? 

Its website says staff seek to focus on clients and listen to them. But how can the authority claim it if staff refuse to communicate with the media, except at press conferences where they praise and brag about their projects? 

We hope officials will have a sporting spirit, given the fact that we now celebrate National Sport Day. 

Residents always spoil the joy of Qatari families during national celebrations at tourist sites by playing loud music. Most of the time they argue that audiences want to enjoy music, which turns a celebration venue into an open dance area. This violates citizens’ rights.