Happy to do the job

Vilitati Katucoga collects rubbish along Nina St in Suva. Picture: VILIAME ODROVAKAVULA

MANY pass them by without a second glance.

Despite the vital work they do keeping our municipalities clean, street sweepers are often ignored and sometimes even ridiculed. This has not deterred Vilitati Katucoga.

The Rukuruku, Ovalau villager has been keeping the streets of the Capital City clean for the past 15 years.

But before that he worked as a carpenter and then as a security guard for four years.

Mr Katucoga said working as a guard was good but the only thing he couldn’t cope with was the night shift.

“Sometimes when I am about to leave my site and my replacement doesn’t show up, I have to pull through and do another eight hour shift,” the 60-year-old said.

“It is a good job because you get to work in hotels and visit a lot of places but the shift work I couldn’t do, so I decided to find another job.”

He got his first taste of street sweeping with the Anil Kumar Company and he stayed with them for 14 years. Mr Katucoga said being a rubbish collector in Samabula was challenging because the work covered a very big area.

“I wasn’t used to it when I started but after a few years of collecting rubbish, I got to know the job and enjoyed every moment of it.

“We used to collect rubbish from Samabula to the Walu Bay area right up to the Lovonilase cemetery.

“Last year I resigned from Anil Kumar Company to join the Hi-tech Company which is where I am working now.

“I usually start at 6am by collecting rubbish from the main road up to Suvavou House.

“From there I collect rubbish at Fiji Broadcasting Commission at Carnarvon St, right through Butt Street and down to the market.”

He said this would take him through to morning tea.

“After the break, I continue to Nina St, go up Raojibhai Patel St and by that time, it’s lunch. “After lunch break, I continue before knock-off at 4pm.”

Mr Katucoga said people viewed street sweeping and picking rubbish as ‘dirty’ work. But, in his view, it was very physical work and it kept him healthy.

“I hope to continue for as long as I can.”

Mr Katucoga said all his pay went towards providing for his family and ensuring his two children who attended Saraswati Primary School were well taken care of.

“I work hard for them, they are the reason I am willing to get up early every morning and work through the sun or the rain.” He said one of the perks of his job was meeting different kinds of people every day.

“Most of the shop owners know me very well too.”

Mr Katucoga said going back to the village was not in his plans at the moment because he wanted his children to receive the best education possible.

His advice to the youths of today is nothing is impossible. If you can’t find work, try street sweeping and rubbish collection.

“People will look down on you if you collect rubbish around towns and cities throughout Fiji but this job will help you look after your family and secondly, you are playing a big part in keeping our environment clean.”

More Stories