'Wira oren' turn up rain or shine

( February 07, 2024 ) — LIM BENG TATT/The Star

BUKIT MERTAJAM: For these road sweepers, they are indeed the “wira oren” (heroes in orange) for carrying out their work despite the stifling heat these days.

Their nickname, derived from the colour of their uniforms with the Seberang Prai City Council (MBSP), says much about these workers who slog under the hot sun from morning till late afternoon when the temperature could reach up to 37ºC.

“Each day, before I report for duty, I will ensure that I have two litres of plain water with me,” said Mohd Solihin Ahmad, 33.

“My wife always reminds me to drink as much water as I can to cope with the heat.”

And if the water is all consumed even before his shift ends, he will buy mineral water or refill his bottles at the MBSP headquarters or depot.

To avoid getting heatstroke, Mohd Solihin said he would keep his head wrapped in cloth or a balaclava.

“I also try to get under the shade whenever possible,” said the father of two, who has been with MBSP since 2016.

“At times, we can hardly stand the hot weather, but it is our job to keep the city clean,” Mohd Solihin said when met at a residential park here.

He said it would be more trying during Ramadan next month.

“All we can do is to hope that it won’t get way too hot,” he added.

His co-worker Mohd Nazri Jamahri, 34, said he has got used to the conditions after almost five years in the job.

They would each carry a few litres of drinking water to stay hydrated, he said.

“There is a work timetable for us. Whenever there are any assignments for us, we will oblige,” he said.

Mohd Mazlan Mansor, 40, said he enjoys working with MBSP.

“Many people who see me in the morning while I am sweeping the road will stop to greet me,” he said.

Such gestures, he said, gives him pride in his job to keep the city clean.

He said the council had provided ample training and equipment for them to fulfil their responsibilities. City council workers in Penang are neither contractors nor part-timers and are instead full-time state civil servants.

MBSP urban services director Ahmad Zabri Mohamed Sarajudin said there were 1,938 wira oren.

“Their working hours are from 7am to 4pm from Mondays to Fridays,” he said.

He said these workers are frequently reminded to drink enough water and to inform their supervisors if they are not feeling well.

“We remind them to cool down sufficiently before they shower; and not to do it when they feel too hot,,” he said.

MBSP assistant environmental health officer Mohd Norazizul Shahabdin said the wira oren are grouped into teams consisting of seven per unit.

“For example, the unit in Seberang Jaya will be responsible for keeping the parks and roads clean and be prepared for deployment to specific locales when there are complaints from the public,” he said.

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