THROWING out the trash is most likely something we dread. But it’s a household chore we have to do on a daily basis whether we like it or not.
For many of us, taking out the trash to dump in the wheelie bin is just a few steps from our house. Once the rubbish has been chucked, the chore is done and we leave the rest to Trienekens (Sarawak) Sdn Bhd.
As the operating company of integrated waste management in Sarawak, Trienekens ‘takes care’ of our trash by disposing of it on the sanitary landfill at the Kuching Integrated Waste Management Park (KIWMP), some 27km from Kuching city.
The modern sanitary landfill is where the 129 Trienekens employees from the Logistics and Services Department, comprising 86 loaders and 43 drivers, throw household trash, collected from homes within the jurisdiction of Kuching South City Council (MBKS), Kuching North City Commission (DBKU), Padawan Municipal Council (MPP) and certain areas under the Serian District Council (MDS).
“When we’re done collecting the garbage at our assigned areas, we will transfer it to KIWMP. There, the waste will be weighed first before being transferred to the landfill,” said Trienekens head loader Ajis Bayod.
The 53-year-old from Kampung Bayur, Jalan Puncak Borneo, has been working for Trienekens for the past 14 years, waking up at 1.30am every working day to head down to Trienekens office at Jalan Sungai Tapang to join his crew.
There are 43 teams under Trienekens Logistics and Services Department with different shifts, and for Ajis and his crew — driver Mohd Amin Sapari and another loader Louis Rendy Chany — their rounds usually start at 4.30am.
“We have to start early to beat the rush hours, otherwise we might get stuck in the traffic jam and this can hold up our collection hours,” Ajis explained.
Braving the elements
The trio, who wear fluorescent green overalls, gloves and caps while on duty, often go through their day, working under the hot sun or with the rain beating down on them as they collect household waste from their designated areas, including Jalan Bamfylde, Jalan Maxwell and Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).
From his years of experience, Ajis counts the elements among the challenges he has to face as a loader.
“There’s nothing worse than smelly rubbish bins on a hot day and having to ‘wrestle’ with these bins in the rain during the Monsoon season. There are also incidents where some people, especially from food outlets, don’t bother to throw their rubbish into the bins. That’s when we have to pick up their rubbish.”
On a positive note, Ajis said the city’s rubbish collection business had changed a lot since he started working for Trienekens in 2005.
“I have encountered many situations where residents back then didn’t bother to put their rubbish and waste into garbage bags and seal them properly before dumping them into the garbage bins. This isn’t only unsanitary but will also spoil the bins.”
However, he noted that this lack of awareness wasn’t that glaring now as most people do make an effort to seal their waste in garbage bags.
Since each household is provided with 120-liter mobile garbage bins, clearing trash into the compactor truck has become easier on the loaders.
The compactor truck is now also more sophisticated, being equipped with the Bin Lifter System.
Before waste bins were provided by Trienekens, residents who had more household waste to discard, would frequently put the garbage into baskets and Ajis and his crew had to pick up these baskets and chuck them into the hopper.
Amin also faces his own set of challenges as driver of the compactor truck capable of carrying up to 12 tonnes of waste — from discarded food waste, bottles and plastic containers to old, unwanted small furniture and garden debris.
“I have to be really alert, particularly in the wee hours, because it’s so dark, especially when it’s raining heavily. I also have to look out for potholes, park in areas where the truck will not block passing cars and be careful when collecting trash in areas with narrow roads as manoeuvering the truck under such conditions can be tricky.”
He said he had to rely on Ajis and Louis to point him in the right direction when backing the truck.
Amin is among the more experienced Trienekens drivers, having worked for the company since 2000. He enjoys his job, saying it is a way to give something back to the community.
“People need to have their bins emptied and together with my crew, I see this as a way to help keep Kuching clean and green,” he said.
His years of experience also mean the 51-year-old from Kampung Stakan Melayu in Kota Samarahan has come across all sorts of behaviour while on duty.
“There were times when access to some areas was obstructed by cars parked on the roadside. We tried our best to communicate with the residents to cooperate and move their cars but at times, some of them wouldn’t budge,” he recalled.
Amin was also quick to point out that nowadays, the people of Kuching were more cooperative, acknowledging that they were more respectful and on festive occasions, such as Chinese New Year, would give the crew canned drinks and oranges.
Youngest crew member
Louis is the new kid on the block at Trienekens, having joined the company just last year. At 19, he is also the youngest at the Logistics and Services Department.
“I was informed by my relatives of a vacancy for loader at Trienekens, so I decided to apply. It’s been an eye-opening experience and all right for me so far,” he said.
Being a loader is not just about collecting household trash, emptying it into the compactor truck, then disposing of it on the sanitary landfill.
And like all loaders, Louis, from Kampung Bumbok in Batu Kitang, has to undergo mandatory training four times a year — plus up-skills training on waste management.
“This is mainly for safety reasons. We’re trained to work safely and to operate some of the equipment at Trienekens as well,” he added.
Trienekens collects trash from households and commercial entities with basic entitlements twice a week.
All responsible residents ought to ensure their garbage bags are properly packed and sealed before throwing them into or placing them beside the waste bins so that loaders like Ajis and Louis can help to dispose of the garbage efficiently and keep the city clean.