What would have been just another task, ended up being the last for Sikander Masih. On Wednesday, he went by his work as per everyday routine and reached a blocked manhole in I-9 Markaz that Masih was asked to clear.
The manhole, blocked for days, was emitting gasses with pungent smell. Masih went ahead to open it without any precautions or wearing safety gear. Normally, in such situations, a janitor has to wear a gas mask but Masih was not carrying one, said the rescue officials.
In the process, he ended up inhaling a large quantity of gas and fell unconscious – something not entirely unexpected, according to his family. But this time it was different.
Some traders and bystanders called the Rescue 1122 for ambulance that shifted him to Capital Development Authority (CDA) hospital, where he was declared dead.
The CDA’s sanitation officials said the janitors responsible for addressing complaints related to manholes are strictly to follow the precautionary measures according to the Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and they are given all necessary gadgets for the purpose.
“Normally, dangerous gasses form in the manholes as deep as 18-20 ft. The one Masih went to attend to was only 8 ft deep. Even then, he was supposed to use the gas mask,” said an official of the CDA.
The official added the authority is conducting a thorough inquiry into the incident to ascertain why Masih did not follow the SOP and what exactly went wrong.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 15th, 2012.
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