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Why do we allow so much waste?

5th December 2011
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Editorial Cartoon

They are called time-wasters; the valuable hours which the ordinary people are forced to spend to get simple, daily chores done.

For people dashing out to run a few errands, the biggest hurdle they face is to find themselves trapped in queues which have been ‘eating’ up their meagre time, making them accomplish very little.

We are not just referring to the notorious traffic jams on our roads, whose cost has been well documented.

We are talking about the apparent resurgence of queues in various revenue centres, notably government various key ministries, utilities and some of the banks in the country.

The queues have in some cases persisted despite major leaps in technology which was supposed to end them, by allowing people to safely order service, register or make payment from wherever they are.

No wonder, an expert recently pointed out that one of the discouraging factors to tax payers was the scattering of tax and revenue collection points, pointing out that people feel tired of traveling long distances to get to the relevant offices.

When the long distance, in slow moving traffic jams is added to the time wasted in queues to transact the business, one finds whole three or four valuable hours gone with little to show for it.

While there are plans being implemented to reduce or hopefully end traffic jams, not enough thought has been given to the time the ordinary person is forced to spend to just pay a tax here, rent there, and a fee or to just register some asset.

If these hours, wasted in queues were to be added up nationally and assigned a monetary value, we would be shocked at what the national economy loses, especially where those who are forced to queue are the most productive in the economy. The queues are sometimes created by people who may not be that efficient or do not appreciate the need to exercise efficiency in serving customers.

Sadly all this is being allowed to happen when there are technological improvements that enable us to do more in less time and thus increase efficiency.

We are talking here of the mobile and online transactions where the seller of the service and the buyer do not have to see each other face to face but only know each others’ numbers and relevant codes.

Indeed, we have for quite sometime heard of e-government, and we know that something is happening to enable the various public institutions use technology to implement their chores more efficiently.

The government needs to move faster not only for the public to appreciate that it is serious about raising efficiency in service delivery, but also enhance its collections.

It needs to speed up implementation in areas where queues are chronic and negatively impact on the expected outcomes. These include the various registration centres and revenue offices, where people feel trapped in endless queues.

We are sure the government would be pleasantly surprised at how versatile the general public is in using technology, but could also register a substantial increase in revenues from people who find it no longer a bother to pay taxes or fees from home.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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