DUBAI // When Mansoor al Mansoori is driving around or walking the streets, he is always on the lookout for anything amiss. Mr al Mansoori spots hazards everywhere. And he sees it as his job to get them fixed as part of his personal crusade to improve safety on Dubai's roads.
The government officer phones and e-mails up to three complaints and suggestions a day to helplines and websites about anything from pot holes and broken traffic lights to accidents and dangerously parked cars. In the past two years, he has fired off 1,175 complaints to the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). The RTA was so impressed with Mr al Mansoori's efforts they have given him two awards for his contribution to the community.
Now Mr al Mansoori wants other residents to follow his example and help make the roads and the city safer. "I would like this message to go to people: you must think that safety on the road is like safety in your house," Mr al Mansoori said. "How do you keep safety in your house? You must think of the roads in the same way. This responsibility is yours." He said commuters should call helplines when they spot hazards.
"Think that your brother, your sister, your father, your mother, your neighbour, your friends will use this road, so don't leave any mistake alone," he said. "When you give your suggestion, you will save a lot of people." Mr al Mansoori, 42, said he calls whenever he finds a potential problem on drives to and from work. "When I see a mistake or any problem, then I call. Sometime I find three mistakes in one day, four mistakes or five, sometimes I don't see anything."
He also contacts the police if he sees accidents and the municipality if, as in one case, roads were blocked by felled trees. Some of his victories include repaired pot holes, reflector lights installed on the busy Al Khail Road near Jebel Ali, better signage on Umm Suqueim Road and new signboards indicating speeds bumps in al Barsha. He has also suggested more parking for the disabled in downtown Karama and near central Jumeirah Park.
His persistence differentiates him from others who call in - he keeps calling until the issue is resolved. "People look and say it's not my job," Mr al Mansoori said. "If I see any mistake, I don't leave it until it stops." Some people, he said, might view his behaviour as excessive. "I know people are thinking 'This is not your job, why do you do this?' They don't tell me to my face," he said. "But it's a wrong culture to say this. I know people who say this. They only want to eat and sleep in this life."
The RTA seem delighted with Mr al Mansoori's constant complaints. At a ceremony last month, Mattar al Tayer, the chairman and executive director of the RTA, awarded Mr al Mansoori two prizes under the Madinati and Fikrati programmes. Mr al Mansoori proudly displays the two glass plaques in a wooden cabinet at his home in al Barsha. The RTA launched the Madinati (My Dubai) programme in 2007 and Fikrati (My Idea) three years ago to encourage residents to participate in projects and provide ideas to improve the culture of traffic safety.
Mr al Tayer praised Mr al Mansoori's participation and said it helped the RTA's "relationship with all members of the community, improved work systems, raised the performance level and enhanced customer confidence". Some 28,583 complaints and comments were logged under Madinati and 10,958 suggestions under Fikrati last year. Complaints identified inaccurate traffic signs, oil spilled on roads and pavements that needed repair.
Mr al Mansoori now gets friends calling him for information and advice on whom to call to report a problem. His efforts have won the support of people such as Lola Lopez, the founder of the Dubai aid group Volunteer. "People need to take ownership about what they see pro-actively," Ms Lopez said. "If they have a platform on which to do this, it opens a door." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org