December 11, 2018

Cleaning up Male

For those of us who walk the city see it in the freshness of the morning, Male’s emerging cleanliness is truly palpable. It is so heartening and laudable to see these clean streets again even though this is enabled by the pool of paid workers. But of course paid people also have their differences to detail. I have seen those who swept Male streets so carelessly over the drain covers that most of the litter fell into the drain; perhaps a clever ploy to reduce the load the sweeper had to then pick to lighten their trash carts. But that is deception. And in the absence of good supervision the labor do their work as “amaa buneema farah dhiun”, with irresponsibility and sadly with that dose of deception too.

I see a changing picture for some months now with our dear local custodial ladies doing a great job on the street every morning being responsible for what they do. Kudos to them. And to the national effort to make Maldives clean again. We pray this effort is sustained because Maldives’ true blessing of natural wealth is from a clean environment. If we don’t save it, we can be labeled as ungrateful for our blessing as many think we are because we really don’t seem to care to protect our land or sea, as we, in the name of “development” suffocate it with our wastes of all kinds. 
But yes, nothing in life goes all too smooth for all too long without someone nurse-maiding it, for there always are those short sighted and irresponsible even in the midst of a positive national frenzy. We must accept this without reprisal. Ingrained habits are persistent. We were not always like this. There was a break in the virtuous cycle sometime back when we transitioned from being the responsible citizen as our religion called for, to being the irresponsible hedonist “just doing it” as the famous logo and our ego dictates. We just can’t help spitting on the street as if it is poison in the mouth, or throwing onto the street several times a day, the empty gutka packet that we don’t want to put into our pocket instead to throw into a bin later, or the empty plastic water bottle that we just don’t have the energy to carry even a few meters more to a bin around the corner, or dump at our feet the torn-up sales receipt we got from the shop we just visited. This goes too for the chocolate or cookie wrapper, the cigarette butt and yes the empty cigarette pack too; all this onto our walk path, without an ounce of social responsibility.

Perhaps we have not been taught these basic civic lessons in our schools or families or even by our political leaders in hubris plying around in their darkened luxury cars blind or oblivious to the harsh street conditions of this crowded metropolis we call Male; their dark sunglassed faces further closing their souls from the plight of the ordinary citizen.

Then there are those of the public too who inveigle the moment’s advantage to having their broken down furniture and bedroom sets and mattresses and such moved to the curb hoping to capitalise on this free opportunity of the clean-up days. This too is shady irresponsibility.

Yes, we can’t change people’s habits and attitudes overnight. But we do need to continue our effort to make the citizens of our communities aware that it takes a team to win a game. This applies to life outside the playground too. Don’t be a shameful free-rider; be an active and responsible participant. Let’s sustain this clean-up engagement, and may it lead to a more responsible citizenry.