Sukulwenkosi Dube-Matutu, Chronicle Reporter
THE work of garbage collectors has been viewed as one of the filthiest jobs which many do not envy.
On a day-to-day basis, they collect refuse containing all sorts of rubbish and along the way face a lot of mockery.
Some refer to them as “omabhimu”, a term which garbage collectors view as an insult, especially when coming from adults.
As dirty as their job might seem and no matter how much they are despised by the community, garbage collectors pride themselves in the work they do.
They have a critical role to play within communities and if it were not for them, residents would be sitting on a health time bomb.
Gwanda Municipality garbage collector, Mr Sibahle Mpofu (50) said he was proud of his job as it was his source of livelihood.
He said he has been working as a garbage collector for the past four years.
“Our job involves collecting refuse from different places in the town and taking it to the dumpsite.
We collect all sort of waste some, which is seemingly disgusting such as pampers or food remains.
I’m now used to the job and I’m not ashamed of what I do because it’s my source of livelihood,” he said.
Mr Mpofu said their work had made them popular among children in high-density suburbs as they liked to chase after their garbage truck.
He said they end up chasing the children away as they tail their truck for a long distance.
“The children like calling us omabhimu, but we don’t take any offence as they are just children, in return we call them ‘boma porridge’.
The term ‘omabhimu’ is however, offensive when it comes from adults,” he said.
Mr Musawenkosi Gwebu (26) said getting employed as a garbage collector assisted him at a time when he did not have a source of livelihood.
He said he takes pride in his job as he was playing a crucial role in ensuring health and hygiene within the town.
Mr Gwebu said unfortunately the community looks down upon the work they do.
He said they were sometimes harassed and insulted by people.
“Some people see us as crazy people because of the job that we do yet our services are important. Some think our job is for uneducated people and they look down upon us.
We would love for people to value our work and give us the respect that we deserve. Our job is like any other job and we are proud of it.
At the end of each month I receive my salary just like any other person who is employed elsewhere,” he said.
Mr Khanyisa Mpofu (24) said he has been a garbage collector for a year.
He said when he saw an advert from the municipality looking for garbage collectors he decided to take the opportunity as he wanted to make a living. Mr Mpofu said their job requires one to be physically fit as they sometimes carry heavy loads of rubbish.
Gwanda Municipality principal health environmental technician, Mr Qondiso Dube said garbage collection manages waste from the source to the dumpsite where it is disposed.
He said the town has two teams of garbage collectors comprised of four men each.
Mr Dube said the refuse collectors are guided by a schedule and if not followed could result in serious health problems.
“In the residential area garbage has to be collected once a week, in the CBD it has to be collected three times in a week while in the industrial areas it has to be collected twice a week.
The reason for this schedule is because of the life cycle of flies is a week.
It takes a week from when the eggs are laid for the flies to mature into adults.
The purpose of garbage collection is therefore, to stop flies from breeding,” he said.
Mr Dube said if the flies were allowed to mature that would lead to infestation of house flies.
He said according to the Public Health Act this would lead to a health nuisance.
Mr Dube said garbage collection was important to ensure that the town remains clean to attract investors.
He said Gwanda Town has a problem of baboons and if garbage remains uncollected it attracts the animals that are a nuisance and scatter the litter.
“Refuse collectors are an important arm of the council.
They play a crucial role towards ensuring health and hygiene is maintained in the town.
Without them we could have a health disaster.
To ensure their safety we provide garbage collectors with protective gear such as gumboots, safety shoes, PVC gloves and rain coats when it’s raining,” Mr Dube said.
Article Source: The Chronicle