Underneath the city: A day of Saigon sewer workers

Thanh Nien News

Email Print

The workers wade in black water every day, running into all kinds of trash


Sewer workers of the state-owned Urban Drainage Company in  Ho Chi Minh City usually work from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. Photos: Truong Thanh Tung/Zing
 The workers collect tons of waste every day, including dangerous ones like medical and industrial waste.
Each team has to check every manhole in their area to prevent blockage.
 Some holes are nearly two meters deep and the workers have to climb all the way down.
 Many workers choose to work bare hands as they find the gloves supplied inconvenient, even as that means facing health risks.
 A worker deep inside a sewer. He just returned to work from serious skin treatment after being exposed to toxic chemicals last year.
 The workers said their job is easier in areas where people do not dump trash directly into sewers. Otherwise, they would run into all kind of garbage from dead animals to sharp objects like needles and glass pieces.
 A pipe is used to pump mud out of a sewer. Someone will have to dive in with it first.
The hard and dangerous job pays only between VND6-8 million (US$270-360) a month. Many have to work several years to get a permanent contract that comes with bonuses and insurance. 
 Mud collected from sewers would be dumped on the outskirts.
 A worker gives his colleague a quick sip of coffee.
Pham Hong Vinh, 36, has been cleaning sewers for seven years. “The job gives me enough to feed my family,” Vinh said. 
 A worker cleans his hands and helmet inside the sewer.
A worker removes his clothes after climbing up from a sewer. “So you don’t get itchy later,” he said. 
 A worker sits by a manhole at around 10 p.m. on a flooded street in Binh Tan District to make sure no trash or the like prevents the water flow after a heavy rain on June 20. The workers have to work more on rainy days when streets are flooded and they have to make sure all the sewers are clear.
"The job is hard but only pays enough to make ends meet,” says this worker who has been doing it for 20 years. 
You can find the original Vietnamese story here on Zing.

More Society News