It was quite a pleasant surprise for Kawser Alam when he found Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) workers clearing the dumped waste in front of his house, a day after he lodged a complaint through an app called "Sobar Dhaka".
A resident of Mirpur (ward-6) for 20 years, Kawser had previously complained about problems regarding bad condition of roads, street lights and other civic amenities. But he would have to write down the complaints, go to DNCC's zonal office and then wait for a week for the problem to be addressed.
With the introduction of the app, however, lodging complaints is now easier than ever.
"I found the app while browsing YouTube. At first, I didn't take it seriously, but then I downloaded and tried it. I filed the complaint a week ago and uploaded pictures. The next day, waste collectors came and cleaned the place," said Kawser.
On January 10, DNCC launched the app to provide civic facilities for its residents. It allows residents to file complaints on eight matters: mosquitoes, roads, street lights, garbage, waterlogging, public toilets, drainage and illegal structures.
Four months into its launch, DNCC received 2,257 complaints till April 5, and solved 1,935. The remaining 322 are now pending, said officials. Overall, the app has created a positive vibe among city dwellers. However, the initiative is not perfect and residents expressed apprehension whether the service will be available in the long run.
Private job-holder Md Oliullah has been living at Mohammadpur (ward-33) for 5 years. He complained about a bad road in his locality two weeks back.
He said the problem was solved immediately, but claimed that his next complaint about a waste disposal problem was yet to be addressed entirely.
Furthermore, Oliullah was unhappy with the lack of communication from DNCC. "They didn't even bother to know whether I was satisfied with their work. They didn't call me back to know if the problem was really solved," he said.
Contacted, DNCC Zonal Executive (Zone-3) Abdullah Al Baki said, "We sort complaints into two categories -- long and short term. Complaints related to street lights and waste are solvable within 24 hours. But road repairing takes time, and we let the complainant know about the matter if it takes a long period."
He said due to the pandemic, eviction of illegal structures is not being conducted properly now.
During the app's launch, DNCC Mayor Atiqul Islam said it would help improve accountability of government services, and users would also be able to advise the city corporation through the app. The process involves a user posting a comment with a relevant picture. This will in turn reach relevant DNCC authorities, he said.
The app also includes two emergency helplines -- 999 and 333. There is a special feature for children named "Emergency Alert", and emergency numbers of different government agencies are also included.