Afrodita Musliu: The citizens are more interested in the political events than in the local problems in their environment
In a period of five months, 248 problems have been registered on the Prijavi.mk platform, out of which 39 have been solved and 128 have been updated. Most of them are from the municipalities of Karposh (103) and Centar (68), followed by Gostivar (50) and Chair (27). So far, Karposh and Chair have responded to the reported problems most adequately and most quickly.
Author: Bjanka Stankovikj
Afrodita Musliu is the president of the association “Nexus – Civil Concept”. They created the platform Prijavi.mk (Report problems) which aims to increase the participation of citizens in identifying and solving everyday local problems. The aim is to encourage greater interaction between the units of local self-government and the citizens, to create an atmosphere of greater civic participation, through which the citizens can directly express their complaints, and thus also monitor the work of the local government. Prijavi.mk was created based on the open platform FixMyStreet on mySociety and is provided through DemTools by the National Democratic Institute (NDI).
Are people motivated to report local problems in the municipalities?
Afrodita Musliu: Reporting problems by citizens goes very hard, most often they are not motivated to do so because they either do not know where and in what department of their municipality they can do it, which means they are not informed or most often are stuck in the labyrinths of the Municipality, transferred from one counter to the other. Also, municipal officials and public enterprises in charge of remedying these problems cannot always be present everywhere.
I always say “Public utilities cannot clean up as much trash as citizens can throw! Simply they can’t make it, therefore, criticism would not be directed only at the municipalities, but also at the citizens, whose awareness of preserving a healthy and clean environment is at a very low level!”
What problems can citizens report through your application?
Afrodita Musliu: At this moment, through the prijavi.mk platform, problems of the following categories can be reported: waste, road holes, public lighting, air pollutants (smoke from factories, households, vehicles, landfills), wastewater, various (damaged sidewalks, traffic signs, old abandoned vehicles, uncleaned snow, ice and stones of the streets and sidewalks, a pack of dogs, etc.)
What problems are most often registered in citizens’ reports?
Afrodita Musliu: Most commonly reported problems from the category of waste or illegal landfills, the category of various, holes, public lighting, wastewater, etc.
How many of the reports relate to illegal landfills, waste and similar issues?
Afrodita Musliu: In the categories (as it is presented on our web application), citizens have so far reported over 80 times in the various, and over 50 times in the waste category.
What happens after a report for a particular problem is sent?
Afrodita Musliu: At the moment when the citizen detects the problem with the help of their mobile phone, they go to the web application, click on PRIJAVI (report) and an interactive map of the municipality in which they are located opens, they pin the place on the map, select the category of the problem, take a photo of the problem with their mobile phone, upload the image and send the complaint, which is immediately displayed on the interactive map with the exact location of the reported problem. For this purpose, the Municipality has appointed a person for contact and communication with the citizens, as well as with the relevant public services, to whom they relate the reported problems for to be treated. Every citizen can see the reported complaints, can update them or sign up for notifications.
This application became operational for the first time as a pilot project this year in Gostivar. What are the other municipalities that joined the project?
Afrodita Musliu: At the moment there are 248 problems that are reported on the platform, out of which 39 are solved and 128 are updated, most of them are from the municipalities Karposh (103) and Centar (68), followed by Gostivar (50) and Chair (27). After the pilot version of the Municipality of Gostivar, which was released at the end of April, followed the Municipality of Centar, Karposh in June and the Municipality of Chair in August. We are making efforts to activate the application in other municipalities as well, but given the current events in the country regarding the change of the name, the referendum, the debts that the municipalities have and similar issues, it is difficult to start talks and negotiate with them. But we are persistent and we constantly contact them for cooperation.
Are there measures taken by the municipalities regarding the reports on illegal landfills and what are they?
Afrodita Musliu: Until now, it is the municipalities of Karposh and Chair that react most responsibly and most quickly to the reported problems. It is good that the municipal officials in charge of this web application have the will in relatively quick time after the submission of the report by the citizens to communicate with them and give them information about the action that the municipality undertakes or will undertake regarding the specific problem, which informs the citizens that the municipality wants to and does or will solve the problems, which is also another motive and incentive for citizens to report more. Also, the Municipality of Gostivar proved to be competent for the web application and the communication with the citizens who reported the problems on the platform, but only the first two months of the application. The Municipality of Centar lags behind these municipalities and the responsibility for the acceptance, the forwarding of the reports for solving, as well as the communication with the citizens regarding the applications is at a very low level. We talked again with them this month and we hope this will be overcome. In general, since September, none of the municipalities has shown a great interest in solving the reports, but neither have the citizens. For the needs of the application, we opened a Facebook page and we inform them and remind them of the existence of the application, but as I said, the mentality of the people is the way it is and, although they are offered various facilitating solutions, such as this one, that improve the quality of life, the daily political developments are far more interesting to them than this.
Has the application Prijavi.mk achieved the desired effect?
Afrodita Musliu: Regarding the expectations, I can say that there has been a relatively short time to speak about the achievements. It has been 5 months since it is in operation. The application at its beginning (the first two-three months) was met with great enthusiasm and acceptance not only by the citizens, but also by the municipalities, although they know that it is transparent and open to every citizen, and at any time for each of the municipalities, the reports can be seen, but also the responsibility of the municipality according to how, whether and how quickly the reports made by citizens are solved. We continue to activate other urban municipalities, but also to encourage those municipalities that are already part of the application for greater activity, both in solving citizens’ complaints and promoting it by them.