Great show! Well done Dawn News!

August 29, 2007 at 2:30 pm 11 comments

the hostI wonder how many people have watched 30:30 – a new show on Dawn News. Personally I find it really rivetting – of course that might be because I was a debater in school and college and it brings back wonderful memories. The host of 30:30 is very professional and does a great job. I wonder what his background is.

Some of the guests on the show take to it quite like ducks to water, but others face some problems. Why so? Well, the basic concept of the show is that there is a theme for each episode – the two guests hold differing points of view. They make opening statements after which each one conveys his viewpoint or responds to the others’ question or remark in 30 seconds. It is the 30 seconds that is a problem because we seem to have difficulty in saying anything in less than several minutes.

the nazimAnway, to get to the point (see what i mean about us Pakistanis going on and on!) a couple of days ago, the theme of 30:30 was the traffic jams in Karachi. The guests on the show were none other than the City Nazim of Karachi, Syed Mustafa Kamal and Mr. Hamid Maker, the Chairman of Helpline Trust (an NGO that has been very vocal in agitating for citizen and consumer rights). I don’t need to tell you who was on the hot seat!🙂

Hamid had prepared himself very well and presented his case very professionally. What I was most impressed with in the case of Hamid Maker was that he was able to put forward his strongest points without being rude. It is amazing how much one can get done if one doesn’t make the other person feel that one is on a witchhunt.

Mustafa Kamal too must be complimented on accepting the faults with his administrationhamid and being open to suggestions on improving the system. He answered all the questions posed to him and didn’t try and evade even the most difficult of queries – something one doesn’t really expect from most politicians.

What came out during the discussions was no surprise to anyone who watched the show. Karachi is run by 13 different bodies. In addition to that, the traffic police do not come under the authority of the city government. So whereas the pending construction work in non-cantonment and DHA areas and the lack of sufficient public transport are the responsibility of the city government, the traffic police are not. Nonetheless, apparently CDGK is working with the police authorities to try and ensure better traffic management. 300 CNG buses have actually arrived in Karachi and will be on the roads soon. I wonder how much this will add to the congestion but there is no denying that more public transport is a necessity.

Congratulations to Dawn News on a brilliant show. Keep them coming!

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11 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Vic  |  August 29, 2007 at 5:47 pm

    “What came out during the discussions was no surprise to anyone who watched the show. Karachi is run by 13 different bodies. In addition to that, the traffic police do not come under the authority of the city government. So whereas the pending construction work in non-cantonment and DHA areas and the lack of sufficient public transport are the responsibility of the city government, the traffic police are not. Nonetheless, apparently CDGK is working with the police authorities to try and ensure better traffic management. “

    Governance bodies have not always put in place by some grand design, but grow organically out of necessity. Now, today, if they do not coordinate some kinds of activity very well there are only two choices: live with it or change it. Changing it can be very disruptive, so much so that it is possibly not worth the cost (which translates into real Rs!) or the time, which can extend to decades, by which time new needs have arisen.

    So that leaves living with the current situation. Of course something needs to be done about the traffic. Obviously it isn’t easy, or it wouldn’t be worth a TV show.

    How does one persuade millions of people to use the streets more responsibly? One way is to institute severe punishments for infractions, which does not work very well for the simple reason that the existing scenario includes many thousands of people, who nearly all possess cars, but what is more important is they possess a quality that places them above such things as fines and punishments. The idea is to solve traffic problems, not tackle all of society’s ills.

    Here is one suggestion: set up a municipal local area network, a combination of wired (fiber-optic) and wireless (WiFi) channels spread ubiquitously through the city. All roads (all of them) will be fitted with wireless sensors to measure traffic. The cumulative patterns of actual traffic will be publicly available for all, enabling the traffic control authorities to control lights etc to channel traffic the best possible way. Coordination with the local FM channels will ensure that rush hour problems are also communicated to as many commuters as possible (in fact, this will easily become a habit).

    The nuts and bolts of such networks are not at all complicated, nor is the infrastructure cost very high (the bandwidth cost is just slightly more than nil). The cost of sensors can be high or low, depending on the degree of sophistication sought. In my experience, low-tech solutions backed up by enough manpower is much cheaper for anywhere in the subcontinent – especially when this is also backed up by a first-class logistics solution running over the same network. It opens up a lot of opportunties for local IT savvy companies, including hardware vendors for gadgets that are even at the concept stage.

    Setting up such a network can easily (it is surprisingly cheap) be paid for by the business and merchant citizenry, who are in fact the major beneficiaries of traffic/city improvements. The road sensors could be ‘owned’ by one of the 13 departments, or by any of the automotive/oil companies. Choosing to go ahead with inexpensive ones instead has the added advantage that this could become a small scale industry in itself, making, repairing, innovating different gadgets, and not involve any single entity in an ownership relationship.

    Actioning such a plan does not need the specific approval of the government at all, and can therefore be undertaken with its ‘blessings’ rather than waiting for years to get a budget and a process. The government will of course be another of its biggest beneficiaries, but only in terms of delivering valuable services to citizenry, and not revenues or other potentially sticky subjects.

    “300 CNG buses have actually arrived in Karachi and will be on the roads soon. I wonder how much this will add to the congestion but there is no denying that more public transport is a necessity.”

    Actually optimal public transport is traffic relieving rather than congesting. If some of the buses are well made (luxury coaches) and the routes well planned, there is a chance that people who normally travel by car will switch, or will keep their cars for use only where such transport is not a choice.

    This stilll excludes the problem of poor traffic habits. There is a rather simple way out for this, one that even TV channels etc can help implement: public ridicule. Every day, show shots of the most obnoxious behaviour captured. Video for TV, stills for the newspapers.

    Reply
  • 2. Teeth Maestro  |  August 29, 2007 at 7:13 pm

    Host is Haider Waheed, a lawyer by profession and I must agree with you JA that he does a good job keeping the debate running and yet avoid a fist fight. 30 seconds is short time but its good to keep it short and sweet.

    Dawn I think is going to become a good challenger (at least in the elite circles) to the sham we call Geo.

    Reply
  • 3. Hamid Maker  |  August 30, 2007 at 12:03 am

    Thank you for your kind comments.

    Please visit our web site: http://www.helplinetrust.org for more information on our activities.

    Hamid Maker

    Reply
  • 4. Hamid Maker  |  August 30, 2007 at 12:07 am

    I think that there were many issues that were not addressed, such as the biggest traffic gridlocks are in the district under the control of CDGK

    Reply
  • 5. Jehan  |  August 30, 2007 at 7:12 am

    Hamid, I think you were able to cover a great deal in the show (just as I haven’t been able to provide too much detail in my blog entry) but I think the positive thing is that he agreed with the suggestion you made regarding the civilian representatives who could identify and work with CDGK on easing the situation. I don’t quite remember what you called them – district groups which would be like CPLC.

    Reply
  • 6. Jehan  |  August 30, 2007 at 7:57 am

    Hamid, the citizen’s groups could be empowered by a phone-and-email-supported response service – see http://www.praja.org and of course the email wd be much much better if it ran on a local network. This is something that has been done in Bombay. Technology examples from the region are often more relevant than those from the West.

    Reply
  • 7. Shaan Khan  |  August 30, 2007 at 1:35 pm

    Jehanara thank you so much for the great review! We have worked so hard on the show and always appreciate positive feedback. This show in particular was fun to do because our guests were particularly fired up about the issue. If you have any ideas or more feedback please write to the 30:30 team at 30-30@dawnnews.tv.
    Its great to know that we have achieved our goal which was to spark a dialogue about important issues in Pakistan.

    Kind Regards
    Shaan Khan
    Producer
    DawnNews TV
    ABC.

    Reply
  • 8. Jehan  |  August 30, 2007 at 1:49 pm

    My pleasure Shaan – I call them as I see them. You and your team have done a wonderful job. I just love watching this show. It creates an awareness of the issues and yes it does spark a dialogue. It is when people like Hamid Maker tell you that, as a follow up to the show, certain positive things have actually happened, that you will feel even more elated. Keep it up! I will be watching!🙂

    Reply
  • 9. Haider Waheed  |  August 31, 2007 at 7:14 pm

    JA, thanks for the review. We are looking forward to your continued patronage. Thanks again and keep watching and reviewing; we love feedback.

    Reply
  • 10. Jehan  |  August 31, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    I certainly will Haider. The trailer for the upcoming Monday night’s show has already got me hooked. Have planned my activities for September 3 accordingly.

    Reply
  • 11. basit  |  September 4, 2007 at 9:12 pm

    I think that there were many issues that were not addressed, such as the biggest traffic gridlocks are in the district under the control of CDGK

    Reply

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