Lack of basic safety gear hits sanitation workers in Visakhapatnam

Representational image

Representational image

Acute shortage of sanitation staff under the purview of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) limits has been a long-pending issue. What adds to their woes is that the sanitation workers, in many wards, have not been provided the basic safety gear. Forget about masks and aprons, the workers in some localities are not even provided basic tools like pushcarts, brooms and dustbins. The issue of inadequate machinery was raised by some corporators, including the ruling YSR Congress Party members, during the council meetings in the past.

Consider the case of Narayana (name changed), a sanitary worker from Poorna Market, who does not have a wheel bar or wheeled cart to collect garbage the houses, located on narrow roads. “We have to carry a large dustbin and collect household wastes from houses. I have to go to collection point to dump the wastes every time it gets filled up,” he said, adding that the lack of tools was resulting in doubling of the work.

Srinu, a sanitary worker from MVP Colony, says: “masks, gloves and aprons are essential while handling garbage. However, we are not provided with these basic things. Most of the time, we have to use bare hands, while picking up dumper bins and loading them onto CLAP vans.”

The sanitary staff allege that the corporation has removed dumper bins in many localities. If the Clean Andhra Pradesh (CLAP) van do not collect garbage from door-to-door even for a day, people dump wastes in street corners and even in the geddas, resulting in piling up of the wastes.

“Due to lack of dumper bins in colonies, we are forced to collect garbage thrown on the road side. We pick up the wastes and take them to another bin in the vicinity. If that bin is already full, we need to wait for the CLAP vehicle,” said Narasimha Rao, another sanitary worker from Madhavadhara.

GVMC Municipal Workers Union president G. Venkat Reddy says, “The sanitary Inspectors, under pressure from officials, are insisting on the workers to complete the task and ensure cleanliness, ignoring the acute shortage of staff.” “The sanitary workers are purchasing brooms and other tools after repeated pleas to the Sanitary Inspectors to provide the same went unheeded,” he alleged.

With COVID-19 cases rising in the city, several sanitary workers are on their toes again. The workers who played a crucial role in ensuring cleanliness during the COVID-19 situation, urge the corporation authorities to provide face masks, gloves and basic COVID-19 medicine kit as a precautionary measure.

When the issue came up for discussion at council meeting held during May, the GVMC officials have assured to take steps to increase the staff strength and provide adequate equipment at the earliest.

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Printable version | Aug 11, 2022 1:34:30 am |