Odongo Odoyo

Topical Commentary

By Charles Lotara

So much has been said about the messy ecological system of the capital, but very little has been done to make things right. Mumbai of India, and Dhaka in Bangladesh may rank among some most polluted cities in the world, but Juba does not sit far away from that circle. Unfortunately, we cannot continue giving tips on how the city’s ecological system can be sanitized, except to those who do not understand how to execute their mandates, and the city fathers and mothers are yet to convince us that they do not fall under this category, and that is the topic for another day. Today we are looking at something more alarming; how the City Council is risking and jeopardizing the health of garbage collectors. Rated among top deadliest jobs in the world, garbage collection kills more than 50 percent of workers globally. According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, more garbage collectors die at their work than police patrol officers, mining machine operators, farmers, electrical, and construction workers. Some of these deaths are a result of physical contact with heavy machines, while others result from respiratory-related diseases. As the world struggles to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), garbage collectors in South Sudan are sent on the streets to do their job without essential safety materials like, hats, gumboots, protective overalls, and the most recommended masks. There are also different respiratory protection devices which can be procured to protect the garbage collectors from different gases that are produced from the accumulated waste. These include gas filters used to protect against different types of hazardous gases and vapors. In Juba, however, torn shoes, bare feet, unprotected head and open nostrils remain the conditions of the rubbish dumpers in our City due to the structural mess and negligence by the concerned authority. Besides COVID-19, this alone is brewing health concern, which I think will beg intervention from the Ministry of Health before things go out of hands. Negligence has become the norm and value of the City authority, with or without a mayor. We have seen this the previous years, and we are seeing it again. This time, however, the health department is likely to bear the brunt of such a mess. For that reason, the Ministry of Health must brace up to contain any complex respiratory syndrome that may emerge among the garbage collectors. This will be an additional hurdle extended to them by the council that cares very little about the health concern of their workers. We may have to give the city authority a second chance, probably they will clean their mess and abandon their habit of negligence. 

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