Saigon’s sons of the soil repair pipes in muddy waters

By Thanh Nguyen   April 10, 2019 | 03:01 pm GMT+7

Saigon workers plunge into muddy water with no protection whenever a pipe breaks and water supply to locals is threatened.

Saigon’s sons of the soil repair pipes in muddy waters

Under the hot noon sun, HCMC pipe workers get into muddy water for three to six hours to repair underground pipes that carry potable water for residents.

Nguyen Van Tung, head of the water network management team Thu Duc Water Supply Joint Stock Company in District 2, said: "Few people know that the water supply workers are on call 24/24, whether is sunny or rainy, day or night, just to ensure that people don’t have to experience water cuts."

Tung said each team has about 30 workers who take turns to take calls on the hotline and are ready to go wherever and whenever a problem is reported.

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Workers of the Thu Duc Water Supply Joint Stock Company fix a leak after a water pipe broke on Thao Dien Street last Thursday. The incident, caused by a road digging unit, suspended water supply to the whole area. More than 10 workers, two excavators and a shovel truck were dispatched to fix the problem.

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Two workers operate a pump to drain leaking water from a hole more than a meter deep.

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Shovels, hammers, spanners, saws and crowbars are some of the tools used by the workers.

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Quoc Bao, 32, jumps into the pit to fix an underground water pipe. "I have been doing this job for 3 years now. I used to play football with the water supply workers and got introduced to the job, thanks to them," he said.

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"This job requires us to be constantly ready to respond. Sometimes we have to skip meals so that we can finish our work as soon as possible so that people have water to use." As soon as he finished talking, Bao dropped his head and helped a colleague saw a damaged water pipe section.

Workers like Bao earn a monthly salary of between VND7-11 million ($302 – $474).

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Bao takes a sip of water, taking a break in the midst of repairing potable water pipes.

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While waiting for a new water pipe, Thach Minh, 55 uses two hands to cover a leak. "Even in the middle of night we have to go "save" the water pipe, and the more water we can save, the better," said Minh, who has worked as a pipe worker for more than 30 years.

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Four workers work in pouring rain. After many hours of continuous work, water supply resumed for thousands of households in the Thao Dien area.

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"For me, this job is not really difficult and it is not too bad. The only thing I’m afraid of is when we have to work in the middle of heavy traffic," said Nguyen Thanh Nam, 47, waist deep in water on a busy road.

25 years in the profession and counting, Nam said the income is enough to support him and his wife. "I have two grownup children and both have jobs, so I only have to take care of us two. We pay VND2 million ($86) for rent every month and are careful with money, so it’s enough."

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The water supply company uses an excavator and bulldozer to restore the road surface.

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After a hard day, the workers clean themselves with water from a fire hydrant. They said that the water pipe was new, so the water was still turbid, but enough to wash mud off their body.

 
 
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