Highway maintenance workers of Quế Phong Traffic Management Sub-division clear the plants and ditches on Highway No 48 in Nghệ An Province. — Photo baogiaothong.vn
NGHỆ AN — In the extreme heat of July, a group of workers in Quế Phong District, central Nghệ An Province, the highway maintenance workers of Quế Phong Traffic Management Sub-division were still hard at work.
Võ Thị Lan Hương, 42, head of the sub-division, said there are twelve employees, including seven men and five women.
They are assigned to manage 62km of road, including 53km of Highway No 48 and 9km of provincial road 544B, near the border with Laos.
The highway maintenance workers have to ensure highways and roads are in safe and working order.
They must complete a variety of tasks on the roads including regular maintenance, tree removal, creating dividing lines, and fixing any defects in the road such as potholes caused by floods, wear and tear and extreme weather, according to Hương.
Hương said they face many difficulties in management, maintenance and repair of mountain roads because most of them were built many years ago.
Landslides can also strike any time, she added.
Local people's lives are still very tough and many are unaware of road laws so they use the highway’s corridor to let animals graze and plant crops, affecting the drainage ditches along the roads.
Meanwhile, funding for the maintenance work is lacking, Hương said.
"Despite all the difficulties, everyone always tries to ensure the road stays safe,” she told Giao Thông (Transport) newspaper.
Talking about the female workers, Hương said this work is quite hard but also suitable for women because the work requires meticulousness.
The workers generally spend their days on highway sites that are in need of repair.
Hương said she has been working here since 1999 and over the past 20 years, she has faced many difficulties.
"During the first days at work, I heard about the death of a teacher. She fell while going to work on a rocky road. I was worried about my work because my job is to repair the road and danger like this might come to me," Hương said.
She also witnessed many jagged and rocky trails that have become national highways.
"I am happy to see the roads that are safe for people and vehicles," she said.
This is a hard and dangerous job, especially for women, according to Vi Thị Anh, 34, from the Thai ethnic minority group in Quế Phong District.
She has been working as a highway maintenance worker since 2017.
Anh said they might fall down when climbing a mountain to clear bushes, get bitten by a snake or be stung by a bee.
They also have to work in extreme weather and clear the roads during and after storms. They also remove any trees, fallen rocks, or other debris that may block the highway.
Anh said they are usually outside on the highway so they need to be in good health and prepared to work irregular hours.
"But I'm happy with this job. Road maintenance is not only the duty of a worker to her company but also the responsibility of citizen to her hometown.
"The safe road will facilitate travel and promote local economy and with other provinces," said Anh. — VNS