Pikitup workers are asking to be screened daily for Covid-19 before they perform their daily duties.
This is after about 260 employees arrived at the Pikitup depot in Southdale on Wednesday, where they were all screened.
Workers said that their daily work of collecting trash on streets and from homes is putting their lives in danger.
Thomani Muhadi said he was scared before being screened, but was excited after he was told that his body temperature was normal.
“My temperature was very normal and I don’t have any symptoms related to the virus. I am grateful for what our employer has done for us. Coronavirus is dangerous and it kills. I feel better and I will go back to the streets knowing that, for now, I am safe,” Muhadi said.
Solomzi Ngwadla was elated after being screened. He said, although the screening came during lockdown, it would help many of his colleagues to be extra cautious while on duty.
“Our work is dangerous and risky. We collect rubbish from homes and from the streets daily. We are all exposed to this deadly virus that is killing many people. Some of the bins that we touch might have been earlier touched by people who have the virus.
“As workers, we have told ourselves that, should we contract coronavirus, we will quickly seek medical assistance and go into isolation to prevent infecting more people,” Ngwadla said.
Sindi Matiniza said some of the items they pick up from the streets could have been used by people who had contracted the virus.
“We wear masks and gloves daily, sanitise our hands, and wash our hands regularly, but that is not enough. We call on our employer to screen us daily, so that those who are suspected to have the virus can be quickly detected and assisted,” Matiniza said.
The City of Johannesburg’s member of the mayoral committee for environment and infrastructure services, Mpho Moerane, said the screening was part of employees’ wellness programme.
“We are here to ensure that our workers are healthy and those with symptoms will be taken into isolation and assisted medically. Fortunately, today we have not identified anyone.
“I am confident that we won’t have anyone to test. We ensure that employees leaving our depots are armed with sanitisers, masks and gloves, and we always remind them to wash their hands with water and soap.
“Our employees are very vulnerable because they deal with dustbins daily and those bins are touched by many people. It is our responsibility to make sure that they are healthy at all times,” said Moerane.
“Sometimes they don’t put on their masks and I have personally stopped to ask them to put on their masks. They claim that the masks are irritating, but we remind them daily to wear masks at all times.
“They are also faced with the challenge of picking up unhygienic objects from the ground. It is our duty to keep them healthy daily,” Moerane said.
He said the coronavirus was a game changer and had taught them many things.
“What we are doing is sustainable and we are going to do it beyond Covid-19, to make sure that their well-being is taken care of,” said Moerane.