Why engage Makana via MobiSAM?
By Hancu Louw, Citizen and Community Engagement Officer
Ageing infrastructure, operational issues, unreliable rainfall patterns, droughts and the current impending and increasingly dire water crisis all impact on the Municipality’s ability to provide water to roughly 80 000 residents.
Despite ongoing issues spanning almost half a decade and the continued efforts of civil society, business and private individuals Grahamstown and the surrounding areas which comprise Makana Municipality continue to be plagued by service delivery related problems.
As an digitally based public service accountability monitoring project, MobiSAM has been working to allow you, the residents of Makana Municipality added avenues to report these pressing issues.
Currently totalling 245 tickets, the online platform (found at www.mobisam.net) has assisted residents in reporting specific issues related to the most common service delivery issues and hiccups faced by many residents in our Municipality. Coupled with the high volumes of information sent our way via the MobiSAM Facebook page and messenger inbox the interaction between the MobiSAM team and you the residents has allowed the project to accumulate a high volume of service delivery related data.
This efficiency, afforded by the technology used to ensure that the correct information is lodged and captured by the digital system does however, not always carry over in the execution of the physical act of “fixing” the issues at hand.
This begs the all too relevant question: “so what?” What difference is made by lodging your report via MobiSAM as opposed calling the Municipality directly? How does the website allow for change or more efficiency?
These and similar questions relating to the nature and use of the digital platform have been circulating in the various rooms, meetings and offices that I have been in since the launch of MobiSAM 2.0 in March this year.
Working to include more people and therefore issues over a larger area, stretching into the rural areas of the Municipality, the MobiSAM project regards itself not as a panacea to the issues faced by residents, business and local government. The role of the project and its goals is that of adding support to both residents and the people responsible for delivering and maintaining the services.
Having to tread this middle ground between the priorities and responsibilities of both the residents and Municipal structures which control the maintenance of all essential services, MobiSAM has been and continued to be nothing more than a tool. BY offering people the opportunity to lodge specific complaints with the guarantee of a “trackable” ticket number the project and its digital platform acts a facilitator of communication between two affected parties: local government and residents.
By working to improve the quality and veracity of the information reported to Makana and the updates that residents need to make informed decisions regarding the quality and status of all basic services in their immediate area, MobiSAM has to be understood as one more actor in the lively civic life of Makana Municipality. The onus therefore falls not only on MobiSAM to maintain its services and relay information to Makana, but also on residents to use and leverage their collective efforts to act on the information they have provided the Municipality.
Each of the 225 tickets, all which have been assigned to specific teams to be addressed and “fixed” acts as proof that the issues have been reported to the relevant people, but also the commitment of residents to the project of working toward interacting and working with the Municipality.
Therefore, MobiSAM acts as a collaborative partner between the key stakeholders that collectively comprise the Municipal district. MobiSAM is not employed or paid by Makana Municipality nor residents or business, but rather acts as an autonomous project which seeks to link all stakeholders in ways which facilitate effective communication regarding service delivery issues and most suitable ways of working toward lasting solutions to issues such as a dwindling water supply to name but one.
As a team working to maintain the MobiSAM project, we would encourage all residents of Makana to engage with our project through the use of the website, cell number of facebook account so as to build a repository of information regarding the issues faced by the people of Makana,but also to assist the Municipality in finding, registering and attending to these issues.
If you have any suggestions or experiences regarding the use and value of MobiSAM in your daily life as a resident of Makana please write to us, or get in touch via our social media platforms.