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Workers cleaning City’s stink, clogged drainage system refusing protective measures

Municipal workers cleaning under a bridge at Avenue of the Republic and Robb Street, Georgetown.

Workers cleaning the extremely clogged drainage system in Georgetown are largely ignoring calls for them to wear protective clothing and take other precautionary measures against diseases, according to the Municipality’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Bizuayehu Jeffrey.

“Some of them, they don’t care. They continue as they do but we tell them what is right,” she told Demerara Waves Online News.

Each day, they are seen in either knee or waist-deep thick sludge clearing the canals, trenches and drains in the city.

Most of them are poorly clad and even if they were dressed appropriately, their bodies would have been still immersed in the bacteria-laden material.

Dr. Jeffrey said three weeks ago she addressed the Georgetown Municipality’s workers and representatives of privately-contracted companies about the importance of taking hepatitis and tetanus vaccines.

But she lamented that most of the workers were not heeding her advice and refusing to wear protective clothing so that they could avoid falling ill. “The Council give some of them and don’t even wear it. We have a problem. People don’t like to listen to you…It is very unhealthy. Some of them don’t want to do the right thing,” she said.

“You give them materials to protect themselves, they don’t wear it. They tell you they don’t’ feel comfortable to work with clothes and they throw it. I don’t know what I can say but it’s very critical,” she added.

Asked whether the workers were being provided with supplies to bathe and clean their skin, she said nothing has been supplied and workers were responsible for their personal hygiene. “We didn’t give them anything and every single person should take care of themselves for their own safety,” she said.

The Ministry of Social Protection’s Department of Labour, Occupational Safety and Health has been inspecting several work-sites where there have been poor occupational safety and health practices.