The waste collectors of Dhaka have threatened to stop collecting garbage from residences if the tender system, dominated by the ward councillors, is not stopped within seven days.
The association of 19,000 workers, Primary Waste Collection Service Provider (PWCSP), issued the threat while placing a six-point demand during a human chain at the National Press Club on Tuesday, said a press release.
Nahid Akter Lucky, president of the PWCSP, said, "The two city corporations of Dhaka float tender for cleaning work only to help the ward councillors' business. If this work is awarded via tender, about 19,000 cleaners will lose their livelihoods."
According to Nahid, the late mayor Annisul Huq was one of the organisers of this association of cleaners. "After founding the organisation in 2000, he empowered it in 2015 to bring together all the ward-based organisations of cleaners for waste management. But tender for waste collection is floated now only for the interest of the ward councillors," she added.
The other demands are restoring PWCSP's approval; setting low-service costs through fair policies; stopping councillors' interference in garbage collection; prioritising organisations engaged in cleaning work as per the prime minister's directive; scheduling a meeting with both mayors at least once a month.
Mentioning that the tender system does not provide any opportunities for general cleaners, the PWCSP president said, "We want the opportunity to work on our own like we once did. We will abide by the city corporation's taxation rules if necessary, but the tender system must be closed. None of us can qualify to take part in the tender."
He also expressed concerns that some cleaners are getting embroiled in illegal activities after losing their only source of livelihood in Dhaka South.
Cleaning workers from both north and south city corporations joined the protest.