Would you wake up at 6am every morning and clear rubbish chutes dutifully as your job specifies? Would you be brave enough to sneak into the sewage pipes and uncover rubbish that jams the system? The "Bangla" workers will. The "Bangla" workers dare. And they have been working around Queenstown to keep our community clean and beautiful.
Jahirul and Jakir-the brave souls who wash your corridors and your lobbies
Mr Mohamad Jahirul Islam, 30, specializes as a block washer. He has worked for the Tanjong Pagar Town Council for 6 months. Jahirul, as most of his fellow Bangladeshi colleagues, works from 6.30am to 5.30pm on weekdays. He works half day on weekends and has a Sunday off every 2 weeks. He earns $650 per month.
At 6.30am, Jahirul and his partner Jakir Hassain sweeps every level in block 89, Commonwealth Drive. Covering 40 storeys every day is no easy task for the duo that spends about 3 hours just to finish the block.
At 10.30am, Jahirul and Jakir headed to the neighboring block 91 to start washing the corridors on the levels where they stopped on the previous day. They would cover about 7 storeys everyday. While Jakir uses a pressure washer to clear the corridors and railings of dust and grime, Jahirul follows closely behind to mop up any remaining stains and direct excess water to the drainage holes.
Cleaning in Progress!
As Jakir professionally moves the pressure washer from side to side of the corridor, Jahirul has a responsibility to ensure that the floor is relatively dry so that residents would not slip and fall.
Video of Jahirul and Jakir Washing the Corridors
From his past experience, residents would sometimes treat both of them to some drinks and snacks in a way of thanking them for cleaning their corridors. In some basic English, Jahirul expressed his thoughts,” I like Singapore, nice country, nice people, nice boss.” The work here is considered manageable and Jahirul enjoys his job.
Sparkling Clean Lift Lobby
After work, Jahirul would return to his rental apartment and take a shower. He would waste no time after that as he prepares a shared meal consisting of vegetables and curry for his fellow roommates. After having his meal, Jahirul would take a short walk in the nearby park as he calls his family back in Bangladeshi. He has a total of 9 family members including him. Jahirul calls his family every day for about 5 minutes to ease his longing for home.
He feels sad leaving his elderly parents while he came to Singapore for work. He described himself having no choice as conditions were harsh back in Bangladesh where he lived. Even securing a proper meal was difficult and starvation cases were plenty. Even though Singaporeans view a monthly income of $650 as meager and insignificant, it is often more than sufficient to ensure that Jahirul’s family is well fed and his siblings has a chance to study in school. They would have a chance to undergo education and escape the clutches of the vicious poverty cycle.
Foremen Proud of their work!
When we asked Jahirul and Jakir on the possibility of them living together with their families in Singapore if being given a chance, both of them declined the offer. ‘Singapore is a dream place to work and earn money, but I would want to live in Bangladesh.’
Correspondent's note: Dear Queenstown residents, it is certainly not easy to go to a foreign land and work. For some residents, before you choose to litter in the public spaces, do spare a thought for the Bangladeshi workers who toil in the blazing sun keeping our community clean. We all live in the same block and same community. Let us support one another and keep Queenstown clean and beautiful! =)
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MyQueenstown Team would like to thank Joe & the Town Council for these exclusive interviews with the Bangladeshi workers!