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Garbage piling up in town as sanitation workers continue strike

Gul Hamaad Farooqi

CHITRAL: Al the 135 sanitation workers of Tehsil Municipal Administration (TMA) Chitral have been on a strike for the last 10 days due to non-payment of their salaries for the last six months.

Due to the strike of the sanitation workers, the town, especially Women and Children Hospital, District Headquarters Hospital, Shahi Masjid Road, Ataliq Chowk and various bazaars are giving the look of junkyards with foul smell causing nuisance for the residents.

The TMA staff also locked the Tehsil Municipal Officer’s office and staged a a sit-in front of it.

ChitralToday correspondent visited the protest camp and tried to know their problems.

One of the unpaid staffers, Umar Atiq, says he has been working in TMA for the last 13 years.

“We are not getting salaries for the last six months. We could not buy new clothes and shoes for our children on Eidul Fitr and Eidul Azha.”

Zar Bahadur Khan, a supervisor,  says that we can’t even pass through this road because we have taken loans from shopkeepers and haven’t been able to pay them back.

“We have been on strike for the last 10 days, but still neither the deputy commissioner nor his assistant or any other responsible person has visit us so that to listen to our problems.”

He said that if our genuine demand was not fulfilled, we will be forced to take extreme steps including blocking the road and suspending supply of drinking water to the people.

Khursheed Ali, sanitation supervisor, says that he is responsible for cleaning the entire Chitral Bazar. He has 18 sweepers and four vehicles.

“We have not been paid for the last six months due to which we have been on strike for the last 10 days.”

He regretted that so far no responsible officer has even asked about our condition.

Abdul Rahim is also an employee of TMA who is sitting in the strike camp. He says that we were forced to sit on strike due to non-payment of salaries, but so far no one has even asked us about our condition. He said that our strike will continue until we not get our salaries,.

On this occasion, some political activists and lawyers also visited the strike camp and expressed solidarity with them.

When contacted, Tehsil Municipal Officer Muhammad Hanif told ChitralToday that he has sent a report to the higher authorities to release the salary of these employees.

“We will try to release payment of these class IV employees as soon as possible.”

When asked about allegations by some circles that more than 150 employees were recruited in TMA Chitral on political basis, and most of them were e not working and drawing salaries sitting at home, he said: “We have dismissed 70 employees on the instructions of the provincial government.”

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