Missing in action: Livestock department uses social media to bust its ghosts | Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Missing in action: Livestock department uses social media to bust its ghosts

Pakistan Press Foundation

KARACHI: Sindh’s ghost problem has become chronic. Hardly a single department in the provincial government can deny the presence of these celestial spirits within its ranks. But amid this crisis, some departments have taken it upon themselves to chalk out a solution.

The livestock and fisheries department has opted to use information technology to track its employees and ensure their presence at work. The department ordains that each veterinary official carry a smart phone. They must know how to use WhatsApp and must be accessible on Skype. With the exception of a handful, all the department’s employees have started using social network sites to show their commitment to their jobs.

The initiative was the brainchild of the department’s minister, Jam Khan Shoro, and started around two weeks ago. At least two doctors have been suspended during the monitoring process through video links.

Dr Hubdar Buriro, who was posted at Jacobabad veterinary hospital, was living in Karachi while a senior veterinary official, Dr Jamil Ahmed Khan, was living in Peshawar instead of performing his duties at a hospital in Ghotki, an official told The Express Tribune. “Both have been suspended and issued show-cause notices,” he said.

Remote monitoring

The process is fairly simple. The in-charge of the hospital or centre is informed about the video conference one night before it is scheduled. “I speak to them through a video link,” said Shoro. “The meeting also discusses what kinds of issues an official is facing in the field and at the hospital,” he added. He conducts video meetings in his office daily.

A two-member committee, comprising deputy director Khadim Hussain and Abdul Aziz Soomro, has to randomly ask a veterinary doctor to share his location. “The committee is bound to submit a daily report,” said Shoro, adding that more modern techniques of monitoring will be applied soon.

Video surveillance

There are five livestock farms in Sindh – the Red Sindhi Cattle Korangi, Red Sindhi Cattle Tando Muhammad Khan, Tharparkar Cattle Umerkot, Kindi Buffalo Sukkur and Kamori Goat Dadu. There is also a research centre in Tando Muhammad Khan besides the 958 veterinary hospitals, dispensaries and centres across the province. The total count of veterinary doctors is 503, including 144 newly-appointed ones. The department also employs 779 people as technical staff.

Several of these hospitals were partially or completely damaged during the three consecutive floods in the province in 2010, 2011 and 2012. Livestock department officials believe they will be able to ascertain how many centres need immediate attention through video surveillance.

“All these hospitals, officials and technical staff are being monitored,” said the director of animal husbandry, Dr Abdul Qadir Junejo. “It is a new technique but has proved very effective till now,” he added.

The provincial department, which seems to be competing with its counterpart in the Punjab government, has also started locating all the facilities on Google maps through the Global Positioning System. Three centres in Thatta, Badin and Mitiari have been revamped through timely intervention after surveillance found them to be in a decrepit condition.

The department is also updating its website to include mobile phone numbers of veterinary doctors and technical staff so anyone can approach them.

“It is a new method and will take some time but I assure you it will bring a visible change in the department,” said Shoro. He said that everything will be remotely monitored by the senior officials within a few months.

Express Tribune