Long time ago when I visited Toronto Canada for the first time, I stayed with someone in an apartment building. It was a high-rise apartment building of approx. 150 apartments. It had smooth paved roads to entry, well-marked and spacious parking spaces, green and manicured big lawn all around, a big swimming pool with sparkling clean blue water. Trust me I was impressed even before we entered the building. Further it had shining glass doors with impressive entrance to the building, nicely carpeted and well-lit corridors, good clean elevators and a small but simple and nicely decorated visitors’ room. Apartment from inside was not as impressive but the I was already sold.
Since my young host had moved to Canada from Pakistan only few years ago, I was very impressed with his success in Canada in that short time. I made my impression of his success from his residence. The person had started his career only few years ago in Pakistan working as an IT professional, but I had no clue that IT professionals are in so much demand in Canada and are valued so much. I guessed their residence to be fairly expansive and newer. Naturally, all the time my comparison was being done with my own apartment in Clifton Karachi which to our standard was a reasonably newer, expansive and sought after building and posh locality of Karachi, Pakistan. But I had lost big time in this comparison.
After settling down and during my subsequent discussions with my host I was amazed to know that their apartment building was almost 50 years old and was NOT among the high-end residences, rather a starter place for new immigrants. In my mind I started comparing this building with residential apartment buildings in Pakistan that are of the same age group and that appear to be in shambles. I started thinking that how come this building, despite extreme weather conditions (temperatures ranging from -25 to +35 degree Celsius, snow, rainfall, heavy winds) looks so better than ours. I found my answers in my stay of two weeks there.
Maintenance, quality awareness and following procedures was the magic recipe. The city and everything in it looked new and shining as these people maintain it regularly. And it’s not a duct tape, patch-work type of maintenance, it’s a good quality job that gives things a new look and a new life. Attention is given to detail to ensure that repaired/maintained things look like new, not repaired. And that’s why things look almost new all their life and have a longer life too. And this approach is similar for everything around.
When we compare the above to us and our society, we feel that repair and maintenance concepts are either nonexistent or when they are executed the quality is so bad that the quick fix repair work, ugly patch work and mis matched replacements are clearly visible. These repair/maintenance works instead of giving the repaired objects new look and new life actually makes things ugly and shortens their life span. Hence expansive infrastructure decays quickly causing more expansive rebuilds or complete replacements.
We all know that repairs are less expensive than complete replacements so even economically it makes sense to repair and maintain things rather than completely replacing the same. But the standard of repair and maintenance work should also be of good quality, so it adds value and improves the look.
As a nation what we should do is start doing the following wherever possible:
- After building new projects, create a comprehensive periodic maintenance plan
- Roads, streets, buildings to be cleaned periodically
- Quality of cleaning should be such that no new dust, litter and stains stay
- Buildings, road signs, houses to be painted periodically
- Quality of painting should be such that it completely matches the original color and designs
- Window glass cleaning should be done periodically
- Wear and tear should be looked after timely, and finishing quality of repairs and replacements should not show any patches and/or imperfections
- Garbage to be collected and disposed of properly and regularly
- Drains, nullahs and sewerage systems are not cleaned even seasonally
- Advertisement signs and hoardings to follow a periodic cleaning schedule
And above requires more administration and organization rather than huge amounts of capital. This is all common sense not rocket science. No new legislation, policies or procedures need to be created and may already exist. What needs to be done is:
- Locate the existing office procedures and manuals
- Pull out those manuals, dust them off, refer to them
- Remind each one what their responsibilities are as per these manuals
- Start following up
- Start asking questions and seeking explanations
- Start fining and/or rewarding those who comply or do not
- Start ensuring that all above is followed in all commercial jobs done by external contractors
Yes, we all know the above but don’t do the same, as neither we want to work, nor we want to stop our extra income by not doing all above. But then we are all devaluing and destroying our homes, our cities, or countries and eventually the future of our kids.
So, decision is ours, yours, mine, as everything starts from me, you and us. If I want to live in a shiner, brighter and newer home, city and country or continue living in this garbage dump and let my children grow in an even dirtier environment?
Let’s take the first step, start doing the right things ourselves before starting to question those who don’t. We owe that to my kids.
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January 04, 2019
The writer is a professional marketer and engineer with good work exposure to governments, and businesses and industries in the private sector in several countries. Idea is to take the first step in adding value to anything that one gets exposed to instead of just complaining about the same.