HYDERABAD: Ramakrishna, a 30-year-old software engineer living on the outskirts of the city, knows the travails of riding a two-wheeler through the dusty stretch of highway road connecting his home at Miyapur to his office near the BHEL Junction. Many a time, his ride has almost cost him his life, as other bikers either cut through the divider into his path or four-wheelers zoom across, ignoring the defunct traffic signals and incoming traffic. But unlike others who choose to swear and vent their frustration for nothing, Ramakrishna decided to protest.
And what better way to protest than making public his ire, that too on a public wall, virtually of course. He visited the Facebook page ‘NHAI’ of The National Highway Authority of India which was launched last year and directed remarks against improper dividers, sign boards and streetlights. And very soon, he received the personal number of the General Manager who was in charge of the Hyderabad-Solapur NH stretch. Within a week, his complaint to the manager produced the desired effect.
While a protruding grill was removed, the divider was repaired and reflectors were put up in place. Though still waiting for all his requests to be met, he is thankful that the power of social media at least gave his frustration a direct voice, among people it mattered the most.
So how does it work? “Just click a photo of any disaster-in-waiting or irregularities you happen to notice on the highway and post it on the Facebook page ‘NHAI’ along with the information required,” replies Ramakrishna. Adding photos, he added, would catch the attention of the page administrators better, and results in immediate replies, than merely complaining with no proof to show. “It just takes a few seconds and can be done while you are busy browsing the net. Once people make use of the grievance machineries available to them to the fullest, the authorities will be forced to do their work properly,” he points out.
Sonia and Jain, a couple from Hyderabad couldn’t agree more. Riding on the Hyderabad-Mumbai stretch, Jain almost hit a divider, a structure which resembles the tip of a small stone from far . “There were no divider indicators, neither were the dividers marked clearly or at a proper height. I had to swerve the bike at a speed of 50-60 km/hr and just about managed to avoid hitting it. It was quite scary,” he recalls. “Yes, the city highways are pretty dangerous and it’s a good thing that NHAI has an FB page. But unless more people are aware of the facility, the advantage will turn to nothing,” he observes.
Lack of awareness apart, Anjana, a regular rider through the NH 202 Hyderabad- Warangal stretch feels that NHAI’s approach should be adopted by other government organisations as well, as part of reaching out to the masses. “The GHMC has a dull FB page. None checks it or addresses any issues through it. The APSRTC page is active. But all local government organisations and civic bodies should look to interact actively through their respective FB page to help clear our queries and grievances, ” she opines.