Saturday, September 06, 2008

Customer Service: Galfar

Our neighborhood is right on the edge of what will become the Muscat Expressway (previously called the Southern Expressway) which has been under construction by Galfar since 2005 and wont be ready till early 2010. Earlier this summer construction activity increased in our area and there is a constant flow of large tipper trucks carrying gravel and sand rumbling through the area at very high speeds. Due to their weight and speed the road leading into our area, which isn't paved, deteriorated severly and became dustier than it was before. The more trucks that come through on the road, the worse the road got and the more dust and dirt resulted. We can live with the dust. It's temporary till the work ends. But the speed at which the drivers were driving was a risk to the people who live here, and the deteriorating road was damaging our cars. I looked up Galfar's website, and was pleased to find that they had the email addresses of the top management, as well as the office of the vice chairman. I sent an email to the head of the roads and bridges division, head of quality and HSE, and of course CC'd it to office of the vice chairman, Mr P Mohamed Ali.

An excerpt from the email I sent on August 9th:

The drivers rarely wear seat belts. The speed they drive at is extremely dangerous, especially since they are crossing a public road and continuing onto a gravel road. The high speed on the gravel road causes large clouds of dirt and dust throughout the day. Midway through the day, water is sprayed on the road to reduce the dust but that also has the effect of turning the road into a large puddle of mud. The gravel road itself has deteriorated very rapidly because of the weight of these trucks and has now become very rough and bumpy. As residents of the area we have no choice but suffer through the dust and dirt. But now the deteriorating roads are damaging our cars as well.

I am writing to you as a concerned citizen and resident of the area. I appreciate the effort that the government is making to develop Oman, and I am proud that Galfar, a local company, has the responsibility to build the prestigious Muscat Expressway. However, I am concerned for the health and wellbeing of the residents of South Ghoubra, and also your own drivers. I am sure that your company invests a lot into health and safety training for these drivers. You should know that many of them are not following their training. Safe driving does not allow for high speed driving on dirt and gravel roads, especially when driving a huge tipper truck, filled to the brim with sand or gravel. The most basic aspect of safe driving is wearing the seatbelt and many of the drivers don't even do that.

I hope you give serious consideration to the safety practices of your drivers.
There was no response from the company to acknowledge receipt of my email. At first I thought they had simply decided to ignore me, but then on August 16th, I received the following email from the company:

We thank you very much for highlighting the HSE concern to Galfar drivers and the public at large.

Please see the actions initiated to ensure that mistakes done by the drivers are not repeated again.

We would appreciate your continued feedback to further improve our commitment to all stake holders, with particular emphasis to HSE and Environmental aspects.

Enclosed with the email were forwarded copies of the entire chain of forwards and responses from various people within the company, culminating with the following from the Preject HSE Advisor, Mr. Sandeep Nambiar:

Dear Sirs,

The graded road being addressed in this letter refers to the Haul road from backside of Slaughter house (in Bausher) to IC # 07.

This road is being used by other Galfar Heavy & Light Vehicles as well as some Third Party Heavy & Light vehicles.

Reasons for the dust cloud and pot hole formation on these roads were due to:-

  • Irregular sprinkling of water observed due to off-road status of Water Tanker on that section
  • Regular plying of Loaded Heavy Vehicles (Galfar & Third Party) in speed on these graded roads
  • Sprinkling of excess water on the graded road covered with fine dust (generated due to continuous pounding of graded roads under the wheels of Heavy vehicles)
  • Irregular frequency of grading

Action Taken Status to correct the above deficiency

  • The entire section of the road would be periodically graded everyday in the evening and fine dust generated on the road throughout the day would be cleared off
  • Controlled sprinkling of water is be carried out regularly twice a day after grading
  • Awareness Session on Safe Driving was carried out for all the drivers plying on that road in Bausher (attached attendance sheet)
  • Traffic sign boards were installed along the road & at road crossing. (attached photographs)
  • Increased frequency of RSMT (Road Safety Monitoring Team Inspection) on that particular stretch of road is carried out.

In addition continuous monitoring would be carried out to ensure that safe working environment is maintained near our working area.

Not bad, eh?


Angry In Oman said...

Good for you!

Have you seen positive results?

Kishor Cariappa said...

I guess it is to do with the attitude of top management. Unlike many biggies, Galfar MD Mr. Mohammed Ali has no hang ups. He is even reachable on his GSM 24x7. So good habits flow down the hierarchy.

suonnoch said...

Very GOOD!! Brilliant to see interaction like this. Sue

MNB4800 said...

Great responce. Shows that even a "mere" citizen feedback has some weight which many of the "mighty" companies and their managers sadly overlook.

Suburban said...

Bravo for you guys and Bravo for Galfar. Things are changing, for the better in the way big companies are doing business.

ColOman said...

have they done anything since?

redstar said...


Very impressive for any company, more so for this part of the world.

JT said...

Congratulations, I can't believes someone actually bothered to do something. I suppose the question is whether this is followed up effectively. The only thing they should have done better is that they should have sent you an interim email to say they were working on it :)

moryarti said...

very impressive...

muscati said...

Things did improve for a while, but then they started to slack off. I wrote to them again. They did write back offering to have a joint site visit with me so that I can show them exactly what it is that I'm complaining about. I emailed them agreeing to the site visit with them, but I'm still waiting for a reply from them about the proposed date and time.

Will keep you posted.

illogicist said...

Good stuff. I've had a lot of problems with frankly suicidal Gulfar drivers. Everything you say is true, they drive at insane speeds, no seatbelts, no indicators, its nuts.

Where I work we take driving very, very seriously. Theres a hell of a lot of regulations, and theres a lot of very expensive technology in place to monitor the behaviour of drivers. Driving without a seatbelt can get me fired. Driving while someone else in the car is not wearing a seatbelt can also get me fired.

It is annoying, but I do understand and support it. There's way too many crazy drivers in Oman.

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