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Gulu Waste Handlers Decry Lack of Protective Kits

The workers, mostly elderly women who spoke told URN that they are exposed to dangerous materials and chemicals like battery acid, pesticides, rodents and metal blades among others, that are dumped carelessly after use. Many have sustained injuries in the process of cleaning up the municipality.
Displeased garbage collectos narrating their occupation safety ordeals

Audio 3

Garbage collectors in the four divisions of Gulu Municipality are worried that they might pick infections due to the absence of protective gear as they execute their task. 

The workers, mostly elderly women who spoke told URN that they are exposed to dangerous materials and chemicals like battery acid, pesticides, rodents and metal blades among others, that are dumped carelessly after use. Many have sustained injuries in the process of cleaning up the municipality. 

The workers also complain of being into contact with vermin such as rats, mice and other scavenging pests that dip into the wastes for quick meals thus resulting in bites, rabies and other diseases.  

Eterina Alilo, who has been at the job for the last five years says that while they are required to wear work gloves and heavy boots in all-weather as a safety precaution, none of them has accessed such protective wear over the years.  

//Cue in; "In dong inen...  

Cue out….me bino ne kany."//     

Another displeased waste handler, Nighty Oketta of Layibi Division explains that some colleagues have opted out of the job due to ailments with infections associated with getting into contact with dangerous waste materials.

//Cue in; "Kombedi wan otye.....

Cue out…. itoo idog ticci."//    

According to Augustine Okello, the Supervisor of Pece Division road gang, they raised their safety concerns with the municipal authorities but were told that there was no contractor yet to purchase for them protective kits.  

//Cue in; "An gin ma......  

Cue out….walwongo ni balabala."//     

While there are no available statistics of waste handlers affected by such occupational hazards, Philip Okot, a public health educator alludes that being in direct contact with dead rodents can cause rat-bite fever, wounds and flu-like symptoms. 

The municipal council employs at least 100 garbage collectors who handle tonnes of compost generated from a population of more than 150,000 people. The largest refuse is generated from Laroo and Pece Divisions that have the largest markets.