by Akera Davis – STAR Writer -April 15, 2020

Sometimes overlooked, garbage collectors, who have always been on a mission to keep the environs clean, are being named among the essential service workers on the front line fighting against COVID-19.

THE STAR spoke with a few of them who are employed to the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA), as they worked in Mount Airy, St Andrew.

One team member, Denton Anderson, told THE STAR that when he was signing up for the job, he wasn’t aware that he would be an essential worker, but he feels privileged to be part of the COVID fight.

“Well I feel good in myself fi clean up Jamaica because if we nuh keep the place clean, the virus a go spread and we nuh want that. I go out every day and collect garbage right across St Andrew,” he said. “Everybody can’t stay inside, someone have to be there to pick up the garbage and make sure all a di block dem clean.”

Anderson, who has been employed at the NSWMA for four years, said that he has always known the importance of his job.

“We the solid waste workers are very important because we always have to be working in the storm, sun or rain and me see it even more now,” he said

Andrew Douglas would prefer to be home with his family but said he understands he is an essential worker.

“Me feel bad fi deh out here cause me fraid, but me still out here seven days a week and make sure the place nuh dirty,” he said.

Kimberly Blair, community relations manager at the NSWMA, told THE STAR that the executive body applauds the work being done by the sanitation unit.

“Sanitation workers put their lives at risk every day and they play a critical role in preventing the spread of the virus to ensure the streets and public spaces are clean, and the good thing is we don’t have many who have refused to go out and work; they are always happy to be going out there,” she said

Blair said that the NSWMA has been making every effort to protect the sanitation team.

“We understand that there is the COVID scare and so we have been educating our team about the virus. We also make sure the crews are equipped to protect themselves. They have their protective gear at this time and their personal sanitisers,” she said “What we have been asking too is that the residents help our sanitation crew to protect themselves. We ask that persons double bag their garbage and just properly secure it at this time.”

Blair also said that the agency is trying to put together care packages to show its appreciation to the sanitation team.