Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Worst Job in Afghanistan

No, not mine, although it sometimes seems like it.

And not the ANP either, although I'm sure they think so every time they hit an IED or an ambush. I'm talking about these guys:

I have no idea what they're called in Dari/Farsi, but I refer to them as "ditch men." They're the guys who, for roughly $80 USD a month, get the charming job of scooping, scraping and sucking the stuff out of the drainage ditchs that line most major streets in Kabul.

In theory, the ditches are designed as a kind of stormwater drainage system to channel away rain water and keep the city from flooding. This, I suppose, they accomplish to a limited degree. Apparently, no one told the city engineers that in order for the ditches to function properly, the water has to first get into the ditch, which is unlikely when the streets are generally composed of hardpacked dirt. The fact that the concrete lip of the ditch is usually higher than the rutted track of the street doesn't help either. The swill they have to dredge out of these channels* is not only water and dirt. These things also serve as the preferred repository for any and all sorts of trash that Kabulis might wish to dispose of rapidly.

*With shovels and scoops, I might add.

In addition, and this is the really charming part, the primitive nature of Kabul's sewage treatment facilities and domestic plumbing arrangements mean that the mix is fortified by waste that should otherwise be chemically treated and buried somewhere.* Thus the traditional Kabul cocktail.

*Yeah, you know what I'm talking about here, right? No need for further details, I hope.

I've even seen dead dogs floating in these channels. And not freshly dead either. I suppose the dead cats just sink to the bottom.

The whole putrid mess mostly just sits there, alternating between slowly draining away and bubbling in the sun. Every once in a while, the ditch men come by and invest heroic efforts in trying to keep the channels clear. This they do, if it wasn't clear already, by hand. With a scoop.

And then they shovel the stuff into nylon bags (which are not leak-resistant) and load it into trucks to take somewhere I hope I never see.

No fancy equipment for these guys. They load those leaky bags of foul muck with their own two hands.

Yeah, you win. Your job is worse than mine.


Matt said...

Yuk. Boy, there is a project to get going. Install an effective sewer system. It would create jobs, and cut down on disease and sickness in the city.

mud poisoned said...

And we thought clearing a fence line in the mud was bad...

PaladinSix said...

At least these guys don't have Gary as a boss. Although, come to think of it, this sort of work is right up his alley.

James G said...

Taking allot of S**t at work is literal now

Man I feel for those guys

~James G