Many of us do not drive and rely on public transportation as a mode of travel.
With the 14th General Election just around the corner, many Malaysians took to their social media pages to voice out their inability to go back to their hometowns to vote because of the lack of transportation and not to mention the financial burden that comes with it.
Seeing people’s grouses, one Twitter user using the handle @AnnieVeee tweeted that whoever didn’t get bus tickets to go back or is afraid to drive back to their hometowns alone could opt to carpool.
Her tweet, which was made in an attempt to encourage more people to go back to their hometowns to vote, used the #CarpoolGE14
hashtag to quote Droupr
, a local app for safe carpooling.
Little did she expect, the hashtag became a big hit with social media users overnight and generated enough interest to catch the eye of local writer Nizam Bakeri.
Nizam, who wanted to play his part to help people to go back to vote, then created a Twitter account using the handle @CarpoolGE14
to reach out to more people.
recently spoke to Nizam to learn more about the initiative.
Strangers coming together
Nizam said he happened to see @AnnieVeee’s tweet on his timeline and thought the carpooling initiative was a great one.
“Right after the announcement of the general election date, I read so many tweets from people sharing their concerns about not being able to return to their polling stations.
“I saw a tweet from @AnnieVeeee using the hashtag #CarpoolGE14. I thought, 'Hey, why not?'. I re-tweeted a couple of tweets using the hashtag and thought that this is a tiny contribution that I could make to the country for GE14.
“I then created a Twitter account and shared the password with her because she created the hashtag. She was a total stranger. I just saw her tweet and did my thing,” he said.
Nizam, who did not expect the huge reaction that the hash tag received, was blown away by it all.
“The response has been overwhelming. The @CarpoolGE14 account amassed more than 1,000 followers in just two days. The hashtag also trended on Twitter. I'm so glad. This shows our unity and kindness as Malaysians,” he shared.
Nizam said to date, no big sponsors has come forward to initiate anything, just regular Malaysians doing what they can to help others out.
“But it's heartwarming to see a couple of small businesses lending a hand to join this good cause. Some are offering free meals and free baju raya
(seriously!) on certain routes.
“I surely hope more big sponsors could come forward for this initiative. It is a celebration of democracy and it should be fun!” he added.
Nizam said the initiative is slowly growing bigger, especially with press coverage.
“It is challenging to know the exact numbers but what we can tell is we already received many tweets saying that they have found their travel buddies thanks to the initiative.
“We have two weeks to go before 9 May. So, hopefully more people will benefit from this small project,” he said.
Travelling with strangers, may however sound dangerous, especially for ladies. Nizam said safety is always the utmost priority of the initiative.
“We include safety precautions on our Twitter bio. We also constantly remind the hashtag users to verify their travel buddies by getting some form of identification and perhaps meeting them up before the travel date to get a little familiar with them.
“We have also suggested the netizens to check out carpooling app such as @droupr for a safer carpooling option.
“Whatever it is, do not compromise your safety. They were suggestions for the ladies to travel with ladies and that is a great idea,” he added.
So, if you're looking for a ride home - or if you want some company during those long hours of driving - why not lend a hand (and four wheels) to help those in need?