LAHORE - Sanitary workers are lifting heaps of garbage and hazardous solid waste from the metropolis without having any gloves, masks or long shoes. They are highly exposed to deadly virus, bacteria, and dangerous communicable diseases. The sanitary workers and their families including children are fervently waiting for provision of hepatitis vaccination, quality medical treatment and sufficient life insurance in view of risks involved in the garbage business. The SWM department has no plan to give them special allowance for dealing with hazardous material and garbage, which poses many risks to the lives of workers. About 5,500 regular sanitary staff and 5,000 work-chargers (daily wagers) are working in Solid Waste Management (SWM) department of the city district govt Lahore (CDGL). The sanitary workers confided to The Nation that more than 50 per cent of them were suffering from communicable diseases including Hepatitis B and C and the lives of their near and dear ones were at risk of catching the virus. It has been learnt the sanitary workers interact with a number of people in 24 hours and if they are not vaccinated or treated properly they may become a tool of spreading the diseases in the city. The sources said the yellow compactors (special closed trucks) of SWM lift waste from 760 containers placed at few places while in other parts of the city they lift it in tractor trolleys with hands. The SWM officials revealed the city district govt is planning to provide treatment facilities to 5,500 regular sanitary workers but the rest of the 5,000 sanitary workers who are working on daily wages have been denied the right to claim vaccination or free treatment faculties, as they are not yet govt employees. In case of death, 10,500 families dependent on the sanitary workers get Rs 120,000 as death claim which was just Rs 20,000 till last year. The sanitary workers get Rs 100 as medical allowance along with their salaries while they have been demanding separate 'designated hospitals for free treatment and also for their families on the pattern of WASA, PHA, and LDA employees. The sources said the daily wagers are paid Rs 200 per day at the end of the month with no facility or allowance. Semi-skilled workers and skilled sanitary workers like drivers are paid Rs 225 and 375 respectively per day. District Coordination Officer (DCO) Sajjad Bhutta told The Nation that it was wrong to say the sanitary workers are not being provided medical cover or vaccination. The SWM department has designated some hospitals also for ensuing provision of free treatment and vaccination to the sanitary workers, the DCO stressed. SWM District Officer (DO) Mudashar Waheed Malik told The Nation that blood screening (for hepatitis) of the sanitary workers is in progress in Govt Mian Munshi Hospital and vaccination will be started after completing the blood tests. He said tests of 2,000 workers had been completed and 15 per cent of them were found Hepatitis-B and C positive. The district officer said the free treatment or vaccination would be made available only for regular sanitary workers. About 5,000 sanitary workers who were yet daily wagers, he said, they will not get the facility because they were not still govt employees. He said the govt might plan similar facilities for daily-wager sanitary staff in the coming days. About providing gloves, masks and long shoes to the sanitary workers, Mudashar Waheed said, Yes, the sanitary workers have been demanding for gloves and masks and the plan is in the pipeline.