Cricklewood binman clears rubbish in Indonesia for BBC programme

Refuse collector spent 10 days in Asian country doing the work of local dustman

Collecting other people’s rubbish is neither easy nor glamorous, but for one binman from Cricklewood the job became even tougher.

Wilbur Ramirez, 43, was flown out to Jakarta in Indonesia to take over the round of a local dustman and street sweeper for BBC series Toughest Place In The World To Be A…

The refuse collector for Hammersmith and Fulham Council was banned from researching life in Jakarta before he met Imam, the man whose round he will take over.

Imam works seven days a week, not only collecting rubbish but having to sweep the front of the houses and open and clear the storm drains, all in bare feet and without gloves.

Mr Ramirez, who lived with Imam and his family for 10 days, said: “I couldn’t believe how they live.

“Nobody has a toilet there, and there is just one cable which everybody gets their electricity from.

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“I’ve seen countless rats during my daily work, but out there they are the size of rabbits.”

The wages aren’t enough to support Imam and his family so he is forced to moonlight, often working late into the night sorting recyclables (mostly plastic bottles and tins) from the rubbish pile to sell on for a little more cash.

Mr Ramirez said: “I thought it would be tough, but I could never imagine how tough.

“For me I go back to my job, driving a truck, with a uniform and gloves, and at the end of my shift I go home to my family.

‘‘For them this nightmare goes on every day.”

Mr Ramirez, who is the lead singer in jazz-funk band Ramirez, now plans to do a charity gig to raise money for the residents who leave near the tip in Jakarta.