Smoke, soot and sweat: Egypt's charcoal workers

14 February 2020 | Ekonomie
Inshas, Egypt - To fuel Egyptians' love for shisha pipes and barbeques, Said Mahrous and his men toil in an open-air furnace, inhaling thick plumes of smoke day in, day out.

Covered in soot and sweat, their faces blackened, they labour in a village near Cairo over burning mounds of charcoal, without gloves, facemasks or health insurance.

Health and environmental concerns fall by the wayside when lumps of charcoal must be bagged at the end of the day and transported across the country.

"The smoke doesn't really affect me - I've gotten used to it working here for over 35 years," says Mahrous.

"I'm an old fahham from way back," adds the 48-year-old, using the local term for a coal worker.

"My father plucked me out of school, and I have continued the tradition because he was one too."

US$125 a month

The site in Inshas, in the fertile Nile River delta north of the Egyptian capital, employs dozens of men working for about 2 000 pounds (US$125) a month.

The workers take tree trunks sourced from nearby towns, clear them of branches and stack them according to their girth.

They then throw them on 40-square-metre patches of field that become smouldering furnaces.

The trunks must be dried out first, a task that takes about a year, says Mahrous.

"Then we build the furnace, add rice straw and start the fire, which burns for about 10 to 15 days."

Dirt and rice stalks trap the heat and stop the fire from spreading.

‘Taking a toll’

Mahrous explains that different trees produce specific types of charcoal.

Wood from mango and orange trees is charred for smoking shisha, while the charcoal from casuarina, camphor and olive trees is used for barbeques.

The mounds are then hosed down with water to cool them, but the tinders still smoulder underneath as smoke rises up into the air.

Using shovels, the workers dig down and break up the charcoal, sifting and then bagging it.

About two tonnes of wood produce one tonne of charcoal.

Mahrous admits the work is taking a toll, telling AFP that "the heavy lifting of tree trunks sometimes hurts my back".

"For my kids, I hope they can get well paid jobs," he says.

"But if they can't find any, then they will work with me." – Nampa/AFP

Soortgelyk

 

Von Bachdam bereik 89%-merk

2 ure gelede | Omgewing

Elvira Hattingh - Die Von Bachdam was vanmiddag om 12:00 presies 89% vol en het steeds 6,4 m³ water per sekonde ontvang. Maandag was dit...

Okahandjarivier saai wéér amok

4 ure gelede | Omgewing

Elvira Hattingh - Die Okahandjarivier het gisternag wéér mnr. James Roux se kleinhoewe buite Okahandja oorstroom en boonop vroegoggend een persoon meegesleur. Die polisie, asook...

Steeds geen kontrak vir diens aan Psemas

16 ure gelede | Gesondheid

Henriette Lamprecht - Die staat se mediese fonds (Psemas) se nuwe kontrak met gesondheidsdiensverskaffers wat reeds sedert 2017 sloer, is weer uitgestel, die keer tot...

Beeste uit Botswana vul tekort aan

16 ure gelede | Byvoegsels

Ronelle Rademeyer - Sowat vier maande nadat Botswana sy grens vir die uitvoer van lewende slagbeeste na Namibië oopgestel het, kon Meatco op Dinsdag 18...

Boer skiet glo 'mieliedief'

16 ure gelede | Misdaad

Francoise Steynberg - 'n Boer van Tsumeb het Maandag op ‘n klag van poging tot moord in die landdroshof verskyn nadat hy glo ‘n vermeende...

Weer, Woensdag 26 Februarie 2020

16 ure gelede | Weer

BINNELAND: Gedeeltelik bewolkte en baie warm weer sal in die Kunene-Wesstreek heers. Elders sal dit gedeeltelik bewolk en warm tot baie warm wees met geïsoleerde,...

Samherji-werkers afgelê

16 ure gelede | Misdaad

Leandrea Louw – Sowat 210 werknemers van die vaartuie MV Saga en MV Geysir gaan aanstaande maand afgelê word. Die werknemers is vroeër vandeesmaand gestrand...

Posisioneer jouself betyds vir groter wins

16 ure gelede | Landbou

Christo du Plessis, Dierevoedingskundige: Feedmaster – In hierdie artikel kyk ons na die sleutelkwessies in rooivleisproduksie wat wins dryf, en hoe fosforaanvulling produsente se winsgewendheid...

N$14 miljoen vir kragprojek bewillig

16 ure gelede | Regering

Yandi du Plessis - ’n Sooispitseremonie vir die voorsiening van krag aan die Otjomuise- en Havana informele nedersettings het Vrydag in Otjomuise in die hoofstad...