TIA glitters after exemplary clean-up campaign


YEK RAJ PATHAK, KATHMANDU, July 23: Subin Shah arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on July 12, but hardly could he believe his eyes that he had actually landed back in his home country Nepal rather than another transit.

He was returning home six months after his stay in Australia. He did not know that in this short period of time a lot had changed in the scale of sanitation and management of the country’s only international airport.

It is true that everyone who visits the TIA would be suffused with the same feeling that swayed Subin. The floor, rest rooms, bathrooms, walls and chairs have taken on a cleaner look. The usual clutter of things that contribute towards disfiguring the airport is no more there. The rubbish bins and receptacles too look attractive. After entering the airport, the wafts of fragrance now take the visitors by surprise as well as delight. The travellers are now humming, “Excellent, the airport has become cleaner.”

Secretary at the Ministry of Water Supply and Sanitation and a senior engineer, Bhim Upadhaya, wrote on his facebook wall on July 14, “Nepali people must be able to take a full advantage of Khem jee’s capability . We can witness the unimaginable volunteering work taken up by his company at the TIA which is making a short work of the cleaning task. In response to my request for lessons in keeping the Singha Durbar clean he said he was always ready and also made a commitment to arrive in Nepal from Australia in the next 48 hours. Khem jee is great, my salutation.”

Khem Sharma, who was praised by Secretary Upadhyaya, is leading the clean – up campaign at the airport. It has been eight years since 32 – year – old Sharma’s ‘Khem’s Cleaning’ has been cleaning in Australia. He has been cleaning up governmental and non-governmental offices and companies in Australia. The same hands are being used to clean up the airport, and only in just three weeks a transformation has descended the airport’s ambience.

On June 16, Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal’s TIA Management and the Non – Resident Nepali Association (NRNA) reached an agreement to start cleaning up the airport’s international terminal building in a modern and international footing so as to set an example along the way.

NRNA took the major workload of the task and handed over the job to the Khem’s Cleaning. NRNA’s Vice Chairman, Bhaban Bhatta, said the company was chosen on basis of merit mindful of its success in Australia.

The clean-up starts at 12 midnight everyday under Khem’s leadership. He is backed up by 30 workers from the airport. He arrives at the airport at midnight with the workers and leaves at 5 am with them. As Kathmandu wakes up from its deep slumber, the airport greets it with a new fresh veneer. The routine of cleaning up the airport has remained the same since the work started more than 20 days ago.

Sharma celebrated his birthday, which fell on July 15, with the workers at the airport. A cleaner, Sanjay Magar recalled, “My happiness knew no bounds when we were able to celebrate sir’s birthday with him. He not only instructs us, but works along with us and this amazes me. It would be great if all the Nepali people learned to respect work like him. We start the clean-up at midnight and by morning it is complete.”

An exemplary transformation can be seen within the international terminal building and the upper section. If Nepal Government is to formulate a provision and criteria on cleanliness and enforce a monitoring channel in compliance with the regulation, all the billions worth of buildings in the city would be cleaned within six months to one year.

“The problem of cleaning the modern buildings due to the dust and smoke emanating from Nepal’s busy roads is temporary, and its solution is possible with the construction of roads in Nepal,” Khem shared.

Nepali film industry’s star, Rajesh Hamal, exudes similar opinion. He said he was extremely influenced by seeing the clean-up campaign during his visit to the airport a few days ago. “We are very much enthused when building the public, governmental and private sector’s physical structure, but these structures take on a decrepit and worn out look in just a few years’ time due to the failure at keeping it clean and carrying out necessary maintenance work,” Hamal insisted.

CAAN General Manager, Devandand Upadhyay, said although the work was started in view of completing it within a certain period of time, the workers have benefited from it. He added that the modern clean – up campaign would be given continuity in the coming days mindful of transferring the skills associated with it. “In particular, the campaign was launched to learn the non-resident Nepali people’s technology, skill and the international working style, and we look forward to giving it continuity due to the motivational results it has yielded,” Upadhyay said.

He added that in the coming days the workers based in the country can be tapped into for such a service. “We have learned the international style of cleaning up; given the availability of necessary technology and human resources, we can keep the airport glittering forever,” cleaner Sanjay Magar shared further.

Meanwhile, Secretary Upadhyaya has a desire to make the Singha Durbar glitter. He spoke of his eagerness of handing over Khem the job of cleaning the buildings inside the Singha Durbar complex. “It is not right to hand over to others the job of keeping your houses and offices clean, but if we could teach the workers here the international skills and working style from him, I believe we can continue this in the future,” he confided.

Hotel Association of Nepal’s General Secretary, Binayak Shah, said that if we could present the clean and managed airport to arriving tourists only once, it would leave a good impression on them towards Nepal. “Anyone will have the desire to present cleanliness and greenery to anyone arriving in Nepal; we should run this campaign for not only now, but forever,” Shah added.

Khem is of the opinion that an arriving tourist’s first impression rests on cleanliness in Nepal and that the country’s beautiful image is enhanced in the international community only if the airport – the prime gateway to the country – is clean. The campaign will formally come to a conclusion at the end of July, but it will continue if a request is made, according to Khem.

For now, the clean-up campaign is a month – long volunteering work. Khem’s company has launched such campaigns at the Bharatpur airport and Bharatpur cancer hospital. He is not only cleaning the structures, but only teaching skills and working style to the human resources in hand.

Those visiting the airport have started suggesting that the clean-up work must continue, and not halted after a month. RSS