Tech solution: Combating corruption, one click at a time
The corruption that plagues Pakistan is a source of shame for the common man, and the websiteipaidabribe.pk gathers the personal experiences of individuals with various forms of corruption to present it to the government for action.
The concept of the website is by no means unique. Irked by the corruption in all tiers of society,, a former Indian Government official, decided to launch the website ipaidabribe.com for Indian citizens.
“This idea was simple, everyone at some point is put on the spot where they have to unintentionally pay a certain price for whatever reason, and then unwillingly we become a part of this peril,
From a small office with just friends and family running the show, the Indian website gained popularity over a very short period of time. “I felt like an ‘agony aunt’ as I was always directing people on what to do when faced with a corruption-related situation,” he said.
With guidance and advice from the expert himself, the website managed to gather reports and presented them to the Government of India to take action. “We have changed some systems within our communities through this initiative and it has benefited society at large,” he added.
From something as small as a tutor taking a bribe to a local police officer gaining popularity for all the wrong reasons, ipaidabribe.com deals with corruption at all levels. According to the website, in India, a total of 22,961 reports have been compiled across 597 cities and corruption totaling INR 587.1 million (PKR 1.021 billon) has been reported. Corruption-related complaints develop a trend for the website managers, who can then file an official complaint and take action against those involved in the process.
While the website was enjoying its fame and glory with more than three million hits recorded, Pakistan was one of the first countries to contact its neighbor for a partnership in the initiative. Two years ago, ipaidabribe.pk launched in Pakistan.
Speaking to The Express Tribune, Hamza Fazeel who is managing the Pakistan chapter of the website, speaks about corruption trends in Pakistan. While the concept was alien to many in the rural areas,Fazeel said it is also new for government offices. Fazeel said letters of support for the initiative have been written to the highest officials of the government to endorse the cause. “We have written to all chief secretaries and even the Chief Justice of Pakistan” he said. Of other challenges, Fazeel said since internet penetration in Pakistan is still limited, it has been taxing to look at corruption indicators at lower levels. However, expos at district levels will be conducted to raise awareness over the issue.
According to the 408,572 complaints recorded by the Pakistani website, Lahore leads with more than Rs6 million worth of corruption. It is followed by Karachi with Rs4 million, Islamabad with Rs2 million, and Swat with Rs200,000.
Moreover, department-wise segment analysis reveals that corruption of more than Rs4 million comes under the unclassified head ‘other’, followed by more than Rs 3million worth of corruption reported at the Federal Board of Revenue, almost Rs3 million in the Sports Board, over Rs2 million in the Excise and Taxation Department and Rs57,000 in the Revenue Department.
Fazeel said at the moment, the website was managing complaint gathering in two ways — by utilising 25 freelance journalists across the country who were feeding the website with corruption related stories, and through direct complaints from citizens.
He said the website was also in the process of specifying its interface by adding more information about the accused. “At the moment, the data we are receiving is more quantitative. We are revamping the website and asking more specific questions to gather qualitative information,” he said. Moreover, Fazeel hopes their data can be used for academic purposes as well. On average, a total of 200 to 300 people visit the website daily, said Fazeel. “If one ministry is trending more than others, then we know there is a problem there,” he added.
With 23 countries registered across Asia, Europe, Africa, North and South America and ten new startups, Fazeel said a conference is scheduled in Bangalore early next year where their Indian counterparts will meet with the operators of sister websites and look at the concept with an international perspective. Moreover, several governments had taken up the initiative at a government level and suggested that the government of Pakistan should do so too