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Hanoi sewer workers brave cold weather

Hanoi sewer workers brave cold weather

Sunday, January 28, 2024, 10:08 GMT+7
Hanoi sewer workers brave cold weather
Sewer workers brave cold weather conditions down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

The ongoing chilly weather in Hanoi has brought more challenges to sewer cleaning workers who brave the dark waters of every manhole and sewer, facing not only mud and trash but also numerous other hazards lurking below.

Workers from the Mechanized Construction Enterprise of Hanoi Drainage Company persist in their usual tasks despite the cold, toiling beneath the dark, malodorous sewers filled with the stench of wastewater. 

Standing at about 1.6 meters tall with a slim build, 20-year-old Nguyen Minh Hieu demonstrates remarkable skill during a shift in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District as he deftly maneuvers a suction pipe. 

When there are signals, he swiftly brings the pipe to the surface for his co-workers to clear obstructions. 

Sewer workers brave cold weather down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Sewer workers brave cold weather conditions down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

“I hope people dispose of their trash properly instead of dumping it into the drains, causing blockages,” Hieu said. 

“It makes our job much harder.”

After half an hour of labor, Hieu signaled for assistance in climbing out of the manhole, with his tiredness evident. 

Sewer workers brave cold weather in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Sewer workers brave cold weather conditions in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

In the chilly air, he splashed water on his face to awaken himself, scrubbing each mud-stained finger as he sneezed vigorously and then drew in a deep breath of cold air to clear his throat. 

His hands and face reddened given the frigid water.

Hieu said that the cold is not as daunting as his experiences at Linh Nam Market in the same district previously. 

Sewer workers brave cold weather down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Sewer workers brave cold weather conditions down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

“That day, it was raining,” the worker recalled. 

“When I opened the manhole cover, I was met with a sea of garbage, including sacks, styrofoam, and discarded food.”

Despite the difficult conditions, Hieu remained determined to complete the task to prevent flooding in the area.

Cao Dinh Phuc braves cold weather down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Cao Dinh Phuc braves cold weather conditions down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Cao Dinh Phuc, one of Hieu’s colleagues, emphasizes the necessity of their work regardless of the weather conditions. 

With weathered hands and a weather-beaten face, Phuc remarks, “The first few days of work was the most difficult.” 

“Some manholes made me vomit when I saw them.

“But we must do our job to keep the sewers cleared.

“My colleagues gave me a lot of encouragement and support.”

Sewer workers brave cold weather down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Sewer workers brave cold weather conditions down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Although he has years of experience, Phuc admits to feeling weary when working in drains near eateries, restaurants, and residential areas due to the excessive grease and waste. 

Drainage workers like Phuc hope for greater public awareness about disposing of waste properly to prevent sewer blockages. 

“When the sewers are clogged, it’s the residents who suffer first,” Phuc underscored.

Cao Dinh Phuc holds a sharp ceramic fragment found while clearing and dredging a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Cao Dinh Phuc holds a sharp ceramic fragment found while clearing and dredging a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

A sewer worker descends a manhole in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

A sewer worker descends a manhole in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Sewer workers brave cold weather down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

Sewer workers brave cold weather conditions down a sewer in the Yen So area of Hoang Mai District, Hanoi, January 25, 2024. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

The skin turns reddened and the hands chill after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

The skin turns reddened and the hands chill after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

The skin turns reddened and the hands chill after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

The skin turns reddened and the hands chill after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

A sewer worker washes his face after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

A sewer worker washes his face after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

A sewer worker washes his face after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

A sewer worker washes his face after hours of immersion in cold wastewater. Photo: Nam Tran / Tuoi Tre

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