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Leader 9th February 2012 continued
Continued from Front Page
Sometimes the rubbish has been bagged up but often it’s just dumped in a hole in the garden wall and Imam has to sweep it all up into a box and tip it into his cart. If it’s been placed in a bin he washes that out and then he climbs into the open drains – barefoot in the sewage – and clears those out too. As his cart fills up he jumps into it to trample down the rubbish to make more space. He doesn’t seem worried about the broken glass he can feel underfoot.
"The man's in there in bare feet," announces an incredulous Wilbur. "There's glass, there's everything in there. The man's feet must be like rhino skin."
The 100 odd householders Imam looks after each day pay for the service and he has to make a good job of it to avoid complaints and the possibility of the sack. The job is highly prized because of the regular income it brings and there are plenty of others waiting to take over if Imam fails to please.
Wilbur quickly realises how easy he has it back home. On his first day he shakes his head and says: “I wouldn’t do it. It's been a hard day and I don't even think I did a full day, I did two out of his three rounds and I was dying. This cart weighs a ton and it's usually a one-man game. Today it's me and him and I'm sweating like a pig."
Imam fills his hand-cart three times each day, emptying it when full at the giant landfill site, Bantar Gebang, which receives about 6,000 tons of rubbish every day - enough to fill 10 Olympic-size swimming pools. But even after this he still has work to do – his salary barely covers his rent so he and his family work into the night picking out and sorting anything of value that’s been dumped so they can sell it on.
Yes it’s a tough life being a refuse collector – but more so for some than others!
The programme is available on BBC i-player but you can see a short clip here:
9th February 2012