Paving the way to clean roads

National 2 minutes, 52 seconds


STREET sweepers may soon be using vehicles to navigate and clean Brunei roads, as a way of ensuring their safety.

The Municipal Department’s Support and Vehicle Maintenance Division plans to introduce vehicles for the benefit of motorists and the cleaners who take to the roads on a daily basis.

Currently, more than 400 personnel from the Maintenance Unit have to brave the heat and work on the roads from morning until the afternoon. They manually sweep and carry leaf blowers on their back as motorists try to maneuvre around them.

Despite having no record of injuries and fatalities within their line of work, Head of the Support and Vehicle Maintenance Division Sheran Hj Shaari said necessary precautions have to be taken as the risk of getting hurt is still present.

“The Maintenance Unit will still keep the roads clean when the street sweeper vehicles are introduced. The street sweepers will clean the main roads that are currently being manually handled by our personnel,” said Sheran, who assured that the personnel are not at risk of losing their jobs.

It is unknown when the street sweeper vehicles would take over the main roads, but the head of the Support and Vehicle Maintenance Unit said it is due to occur in the “near future”.

“They have been tendered but it has yet to be publicised. People may think that the people are losing their jobs but they are not,” said the division’s head.

Instead, the move acts as another safety mechanism for the workers.

“With the machines, they will not be working the main roads anymore. They will instead work on smaller roads that will be safer and more manageable for them.”

The issue of street sweepers’ safety is an area of concern as the unit had been taking steps to ensure their personnel are safe on the roads.

Previously, personnel under the Maintenance Unit could not be easily identified before a uniform change that aimed to increase their road visibility and safety while on the job.

“The old uniform was orange and many people working the roads wore that colour, so it made us an easy target in the instance that anything wrong was going on. Now with the new colours and the stripes, we stand out and people know we are with the Municipal Department,” explained Sheran.

Safety precautions were put into place, but is rarely practised, said Head of Maintenance Unit Mohammad Hj Taha.

“There have been practices but it has proven to be difficult for them. It keeps them from having cars get too close to them by having cones, but at times it hampers the way they do their work so that would explain why some motorists still see them with only their equipment on the road.”

Many experienced street sweepers have been cleaning the roads for over a decade, including 56-year-old Silamat Lamit.

With over 20 years of experience in keeping the roads clean, Silamat said there had been no instances of her colleagues getting injured as a result of the dangerous environment they work in.

She credits this to the heightened sense of awareness her colleagues and herself have acquired along the way.

“I have not been injured in any way as well. People think it is a dangerous job and of course it is, but the satisfaction in knowing we are part of a team that keeps the roads clean is fulfilling.”

The Brunei Times