KUALA LUMPUR, April 16 — Between work and health, most essential service employees would choose the latter over the former, knowing that their workplace is located in a Covid-19 red zone.
Despite the enforcement and now extension of the enhanced movement control order (EMCO) at such locations as Menara City One, Selangor Mansion and Malayan Mansion, Alam Flora workers, for example, are still required to enter the compounds of these buildings to pick up litter every day.
When met by Malay Mail, one of the workers, who has been working in the area for the past 10 years, said, as much as they wish to be transferred elsewhere due to the coronavirus outbreak, they must report to work at 8am daily — with or without the EMCO.
“It’s terrifying that we still have to enter the compound every day to pick up trash, knowing that many Covid-19 positive cases have been reported in this area.
“I don’t think it’s necessary for us to go in daily to pick up trash. Maybe once a week is enough, so that we are less vulnerable to infection,” said the worker who wanted to remain anonymous.
The worker said they should be given better protective gear if the waste management company wants them to carry on with their tasks in the affected compounds.
“Now we are only given face masks and gloves. This is not enough to protect us from possible infections.
“We did ask for PPE (personal protective equipment) but we have yet to hear anything from management.
“This is a deadly disease that we are talking about, not just any kind of virus. We too are worried about our health,” said the worker.
For now, the worker said they work in shifts for a limited number of hours at each location even though all have been placed under EMCO.
As for a barista, he too has to work from 10am to 7pm daily, despite the beverage shop’s position in a red zone.
“I’m not sure whether I should be thankful that I still have a job unlike others who may have lost theirs during the MCO period.
“But working in this area is very risky. The risk increases as I travel here by public transport,” the barista who wanted to remain anonymous said when speaking to Malay Mail.
The barista added that there is no indication of management temporarily halting business despite other shops along Jalan Munshi Abdullah ceasing operations.
“Every day, when I return home, my mother asks me why I still have to go to work.
“All I can tell her is that the beverage shop is categorised as an essential service, and so the management has decided to stay open,” he said.
Noting a rare development, the barista said although the shop is located right next to Menara City One, where a large cluster of Covid-19 cases has been reported, orders are still aplenty via food delivery services.
“We are still getting orders from lunchtime onwards.
“But if you were to ask me to choose, I’d rather not work,” said the barista.
On the other hand, a refugee from Myanmar told Malay Mail that he is thankful that he has a job and a roof over his head during these trying times.
“The Malaysian government made the right move by enforcing a nationwide MCO and EMCO in certain areas, and the government is very good in that it is assisting its people with salary subsidies and other monetary aid.
“Back home, my government won’t do all this for us. They will only tell you to stay home. That’s it, you’re on your own from there,” said the refugee who only wanted to be known as Dani.
This will be Dani’s ninth year in Malaysia, and he is grateful for an employer who has given him a job and a place to live.
Asked if he is worried about Covid-19 hitting home, now that he is not with his family, Dani said it is better for him to be in Malaysia.
“Here, I can earn enough to support my family back home because, in Myanmar, if you have a family of 10, even if all are working, it still won’t be enough.
“I only worry about my mother. But I have to stay here so that I can support her with my salary.
“Also, we don’t go out often. If we need anything, we just run quickly to Lulu Hypermarket and run back,” said Dani who works in a restaurant in the vicinity of Masjid India.
As of April 15, the areas in the environs of Masjid India and Jalan Munshi Abdullah joined the list of EMCO-enforced zones.
The additional areas include Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Melayu, Jalan Dang Wangi and Jalan Tun Perak right up to Jalan Ampang.
During the EMCO period, no visitors are allowed into residential areas and all non-essential business activities must close.