DVB Multimedia Group

Life among the logs

Every day at the port in Thaketa, Rangoon, people of all ages clamber over the huge piles of logs, scraping off the bark to sell as firewood.

“I can sell at least about 20 bags, one bag for 200 Kyat (US$ 0.20)” said a young child worker.

Many people have set up illegal huts around the logging port and whole families work day and night, stripping the logs of their bark.

Than Than Nwe is one of the residents here.

“If I can’t work, I can’t get food and I go into debt. Sometimes I wash clothes as well,” she said. “I have a husband but he doesn’t work. So, I have to work for my three children.”

The huskers work at the logging port illegally as technically they are trespassing on the port authority’s land. But authorities turn a blind eye because they know they are poor.

As more people seize the opportunity to make money this way, the area has become crowded and competitive.

The huskers tie a piece of iron to a bamboo stick to make a spear.

“I use a small bamboo stick to pick at the logs. I tied some iron to the bamboo to make a spear, said Than Than New’s mother, Tin Ei. “In the slum we have to earn our living this way.”

The job is dangerous and many people have been injured by falling logs or by getting trapped between them.

If there is an accident the authorities block the area for a while but the huskers soon come back.

In April a new law will come into effect that bans the export of raw timber.

Tin Ei already notices there are fewer trucks now than even a few months ago.

“When there is no wood, I do laundry. If I cannot find wood, I will live by washing clothes,” she said.