Cleaning is an essential service. And cleaners are considered to be an essential workforce. After the recent surge in confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection, cleaning service has become more essential than ever. The cleaning workers are now on the front lines of the pandemic. But, because of their profession, they are widely discriminated and stigmatized in society. Although some of these marginalised people live in colonies built by City Corporation, many of them are found to live in congested slums or informal settlements having limited access to basic services.
Given the nature of their job and their living conditions, cleaners always remain at higher risk than the general public of becoming infected by the virus. In the competing demands during the pandemic, it is of utmost importance that their rights to shelter, health and safety are not compromised. However, the Dhaka North City Corporation (DNCC) authorities deserve praise for undertaking a housing project in the capital’s Gabtoli area for the essential workers. The project work is now going on in full swing. On completion of its work sometime in December, 2023, as many as 784 families of cleaning workers will be able to get their abodes. However, efforts should be made so that all of the cleaners are provided with similar housing facilities.We also extend our thanks to the city father for hearing the voices of the hapless people. He has taken measures to educate the children of the cleaners. Construction of a four-storied school building is also underway on the housing project site. The DNCC authorities are thinking about introducing primary and secondary level education system in the school.
But, there is another issue that deserves to be addressed. It is that creating a clean city for the citizens is an essential task for these workers. They regularly sweep the city streets and clean the dirty drains. Therefore, they should be regularly supplied with hand-washing soaps and anti-Covid kits along with necessary hand sanitizer so that the city residents remain safe and sound.