Tuesday June 28, 2022

Fear grips sanitary workers in Lahore after operation manager tests positive for coronavirus

By Ali Raza
March 30, 2020

LAHORE: Fear gripped the workforce of Lahore Waste Management Company (LWMC) as one of its operation managers has been tested positive for the coronavirus Sunday as thousands of sanitary workers are lifting waste in the City without precautionary measures.

Thousands of sanitary workers of LWMC continue services in the field on a daily basis and recently the LWMC chairman announced a special package of Rs 50 million for them. However, after the news of LWMC operation manager Asif Jutt being infected with the virus was telecast, a majority of operation managers, assistant managers and zonal officers stopped work and started contacted the head office for further instructions.

Sources in LWMC revealed that the company was not acting on the government’s work from home idea and a majority of field staff as well as staff of the head office was called to office for daily work. Sources said LWMC had a complete system of e-working but the new management didn't like it and preferred file work and that is why officers have to reach the LWMC head office for daily chores including processing of invoices, attendance sheets etc.

The company is yet to provide safety kits to all its sanitary workers who are working at quarantine centres, hospitals and related places and Asif Jutt was one of the officers who performed duty at the Kala Shah Kaku quarantine centre. However, the LWNC chairman claimed that Asif Jutt had not contracted the virus from there but actually he got a call from the health department that he was in touch with a person who had the disease, so he must come to the Services Hospital for testing. He said they took his tests after which he went to self-quarantine at his home and now his symptoms had eased.

On the other hand, many sanitary workers told the scribe that they had not been given a drop of sanitiser. Javed Masih, a sanitary worker, said that some five days back his supervisor came with 25 masks and 25 gloves and distributed them among 45 sweepers in a way that some got gloves only and some got masks only. He said after the day no masks or gloves were distributed among workers in his area.

“Sanitary worker is the backbone of LWMC but we do not have any medical and in case of the virus how can we get treatment," said Shamoon, another sanitary worker, adding sanitary workers were not given salary in time and most of them were working with two unpaid salaries. He said, “We are working without salary because we know if we stop work, the disease will multiply but no one in the company is thinking about us. Officers have big medicals and other facilities while we are given nothing in reward. On last Eid, the chief minister announced a bonus to us, which was given to us after several months of the announcement,” he complained.

When contacted, the LWMC deputy managing director (DMD) said that the company had taken routine measures announced by the government. To a question of work from home, he said several government works like processing of invoices and other documents could not be done from home, so necessary staff was called to the office. About providing masks, sanitiser and gloves to the sanitary workers, he said LWMC had enough funds but the items were short in the market. “We are in talks for their purchase at various levels,” he added.

LWMC Chairman Ch Riaz Hameed said in case any sanitary worker was infected with the virus, the company would provide him complete treatment. He said a special package of Rs50 million had also been approved by LWMC BoD exclusively for the sanitary workers. He said that teams working at quarantine centres were given special suits.