Zhu Wenfu (L) and his colleague scoop floating garbage from the Yangtze River section in Wanzhou, Southwest China's Chongqing municipality, March 25, 2011. [Photo/Xinhua]
A dedicated team works tirelessly to ensure the Yangtze River flows smoothly
Zhu Wenfu and his wife Li Xianmei still rely on the Yangtze River for their livelihood - despite the fact the building of the Three Gorges Dam displaced them and forced them to stop fishing for a living.
Today, they are working to keep the river clean, being part of the Wanzhou environmental sanitation team, set up in 2003 to ensure that floating garbage would not reach the dam's generators.
"If the river is not clean, there will be difficulty in fishing," Zhu told Xinhua News Agency. "My wife and I joined the team for the sake of next generation."
The couple is among 100 workers of the Wanzhou team, in Chongqing municipality, who work 12 hours a day on vessels rented and operated by the Three Gorges Corporation and the local government for the clean-up work.
Originally, 200 people - including Zhu and Li - joined the team, but many quit after a couple of years. But not them.
"I feel very honored to be able to make a contribution to the safety of the Three Gorges Project, and I'm also very delighted to work here, accompanied by my wife," Zhu said.
But regulations say they have to work on different vessels, so it's only when their respective vessels pass each other are they able to see one another during working hours. Frequently, they even have to stay on board around the clock since their home is far away from where they work, so the only time they are together is after work and off the vessels.
Although they are veterans at the work, their total earnings are less than 2,000 yuan ($305) a month, which just covers their daily expenses, leaving no surplus.
But they don't seem to mind. "My biggest wish is that I'm able to work safely until retirement and could get my retirement pay at that time," Li, 47, said.
And Zhu said he will stick to the job for the sake of his family - and the Yangtze River.