Godfrey Phakedi runs the Pirates Wastepreneurs recycling hub. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips / African News Agency (ANA)
Godfrey Phakedi runs the Pirates Wastepreneurs recycling hub. Picture: Nhlanhla Phillips / African News Agency (ANA)

SA's 90 000 informal waste collectors struggling to survive during lockdown

By African News Agency Time of article published Apr 28, 2020

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Cape Town – As governments around the world try to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, some of the measures come with harsh realities for many.

In South Africa, there are up to 90 000 informal waste collectors, but they have been forced to stop working due to the national lockdown, China Global Television Network (CGTN) reports.

CGTN spoke to Godfrey Phakedi, managing director at the Pirates Wastepreneurs Hub, who said they have been struggling to survive since the ban on waste collection was instituted as part of the lockdown. 

The Pirates Wastepreneurs Hub provides a waste-collection service for residents around Johannesburg. They collect and trade more than 80% of discarded packaging, plastic and cardboard.

“As you can see, we have problems with job scarcity. It puts food on the table for those who don’t have families, for those who don’t have luck, who are from a poor family, and it helps them a lot,” Phakedi told CGTN.

More than 100 of Wastepreneurs' trash collectors are without an income because of the lockdown.

Phakedi and his army of workers are ready to get back to work and have already thought of health measures they need to put in place should they get permission to return to their jobs.

“We will have training and give each and every one of them sanitiser, gloves and masks. When they go to the bin, you see it has been touched by everyone. 

"So they have to sanitise the bin first and then put on their masks before sorting the rubbish. They must then make a point of washing their hands thoroughly. There must be social distancing. We will teach them about that,” Phakedi told CGTN.

On May 1, South Africa enters Level 4 of lockdown, which allows the easing of some restrictions. However, waste collectors are not part of the industries that will be allowed back to work.

“Their return to the streets depends very much on South Africa flattening the Covid-19 curve,” reported Julie Scheier, CGTN’s correspondent.

African News Agency (ANA)

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