Residents complain that trash workers spill garbage and create driving hazards with their overloaded trucks, but the workers say there’s no other way they could do their jobs.
HÀ NỘI – The pressure of daily garbage collection quotas and problems storing tools have created more work for trash workers in Hà Nội.
It is not difficult to find a trash collector in a neon green reflective vest pushing one or even two garbage carts at the same time around the city. They modify their own carts with wooden bars and bamboo sticks so they can store more garbage.
Many complain about how trash workers dirty the city by dropping garbage and leaking waste water. Some have even been blamed for blocking streets or causing danger to traffic, especially when they have a pile of garbage on a cart that’s even higher than themselves.
A female trash collector in Hoàng Mai District’s Kim Giang Street who spoke on the condition of anonymity told Lao Động (Labour) newspaper that no one wanted to work with such a messy, giant cart.
“We have to fill up the carts and push them to a gathering place where the truck will take all the trash. Since the number of trucks is limited, we have to hurry and collect garbage as quickly as possible so we don’t miss the collection truck,” she said.
“It’s heavy and we get tired pushing the cart, but we still have to do it or we fail to meet the assigned collection in our area,” she added.
Another female worker in Thanh Xuân District said that there would be more garbage to collect on days around holidays or Tết (Lunar New Year) so the collectors had to work extra hours.
“We have to put sticks around the edge of the carts and collect more. Sometimes, my male partner has to climb up on top and trample upon the trash pile so we have more space,” she said.
A trash worker on Hoàng Mai District’s Tương Mai Street said that even when the carts were piled up, the workers sometimes could not collect all the trash.
“Many residents dishonour our work. Many residents do not co-operate with us by littering on time so we have to go again and again to collect the trash. We even get scolded by residents,” she said.
The trash workers said that their monthly salary was from VNĐ3-4 million (US$130-170).
Nguyễn Xuân Huynh, deputy director general of the Hà Nội Urban Environment Company (URENCO), which manages the trash collection in the city, said that the problem for the collectors was hard to solve immediately.
“The company never expects the workers to collect more trash than the designed storage of the carts. We always ask them to ensure safety during the collection,” Huynh said. “However, due to weak infrastructure and poor condition, we cannot do anything but accept the situation.”
Huynh said that the company had plans to improve the work and had asked city authorities permission to implement a new trash collection model with modern carts imported from Japan and the EU. However, he said the plan had caused more headaches.
“The new model will help keep the city clean and beautiful, but it will make more than a thousand workers lose their jobs, as a new trash collection truck would replace six collectors,” Huynh said.
The company estimates that the new model would be implemented in more than a year. In the meantime, the company would find a way to help workers, Huynh said.
The deputy director general stressed that aside from efforts of trash workers, there needed to be co-operation from residents to keep the city clean and green. — VNS