Earning honest living collecting scrap metal

A nineteen-year-old scrap metal collector Ilham Hakimie busy sorting the scrap metal that he collected from the public inside his van after collecting it at Kampung Buntal, Kuching. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

KUCHING: Ilham Hakimie has no qualms scrounging for scrap metal as it allows him to put food on the table, especially during the pandemic, and it’s honest work.

The eldest of four siblings from Kampung Semariang Batu says he does not feel ashamed and enjoys the freedom of working as a scrap metal collector despite the stares he occasionally gets.

The 19-year-old disclosed that he would usually go around to residential areas in his old yellow van to look for scrap metal.

“I started working as a scrap metal collector about three to four months ago. I previously worked as a security guard, but I did not really enjoy it.

“When a friend of mine told me that his dad is looking for workers to collect scrap metal, I seized the opportunity because I love the idea of driving around to different places and the job allows me to do so.

“Before this I usually spend a lot of time at home, so being able to have a job that allows me to drive wherever and whenever I want is like a dream come true,” he told New Sarawak Tribune on Thursday (Aug 5).

Ilham took out the weight scale to weigh in the scrap metal that was sent to him. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni

Ilham stated that scrap metal collectors remain relevant as there are days when he can collect over 500kg.

He noted that this in fact helped to promote recycling and provide the community with a proper channel to dispose of their scrap metal and at the same time allow people like him to earn a living.

“Moreover, scrap metal collectors also help  prevent scrap metal from being simply dumped at public places that may pollute our surroundings.”

The rates are 20 cent per kg of scrap metal while aluminium can go for RM2 per kg.

He said he loved to make his rounds on the weekends as those are the days when people are usually at home.

“It feels rewarding to see people coming out of their homes to call me over as I enter their street or residential area. Their eagerness to deliver their scrap metal to me is one of the things that make me feel appreciated and determined to make more rounds to cover other areas.

“When I first started this job, I must admit I did feel a pinch of embarrassment. However, I got over it fast because I like my job and the most important thing is that I am making an honest living.

“I understand that not everyone my age is inclined to further their studies after completing high school. I hope that those who are determined to work will not be too fussy and go for whatever opportunities that they are presented with.

“We must remember that our parents have done a lot to raise us, so now is the time for us to help and try our best to give back to them.”

Ilham makes a round to some other places with his yellow van that is attached with a healer speaker to notify the people of his presence in hunting the scrap metals. Photo: Mohd Alif Noni