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Narayan Dahal, a rope technician with Irata, has been used to heights and cleaning high-rises is just another normal day for him. Jaime Puebla / The National
Narayan Dahal, a rope technician with Irata, has been used to heights and cleaning high-rises is just another normal day for him. Jaime Puebla / The National

A proper head for heights

Narayan Dahal, a rope technician, talks about a day in his life as he supervises exterior cleaning functions at 80-storey high Index Tower in Dubai.

Narayan Dahal is a rope technician and has completed level three certification from the Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (Irata), based in Britain. The 25-year-old from Kathmandu, Nepal, has been working with Spider Access, a Dubai-based contracting company, since he first came to the UAE in 2009. Exterior cleaning and maintenance of high-rise buildings is one of the services on offer from Spider Access. A few days ago, Mr Dahal supervised the function at Index Tower near Dubai International Finance Centre.


I wake up and make breakfast of roti and vegetables. There are five people, all from Nepal, in my flat, a company accommodation, in Al Quoz. They all work at Spider Access. There are 42 people in the building. Index Tower is 80 floors high. I am not scared of heights. In Nepal, I am used to big mountains, and I am used to heights. If you think of fear, you will be scared. I have worked on high-rises in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and even Kuwait with Spider Access. Around 6:30am we take the transportation to the work site, which is near Burj Khalifa, and start working at 7:30am.


When we arrive at the site, we clear the security check and I go through the information plan for the day. I go to the rooftop and check the rope and toolbox for safety. I fix the rope outside the building that will take us up and down the side of the building for cleaning. We have to check the rope because if someone falls sick up high, it is dangerous and we cannot leave the person up there. At any one time seven people work with me. I have a cordless [phone], and sometimes I stay on the ground to supervise the cleaning. If anyone gets sick up there, others working alongside him call me and I go up and bring him down. One man is always down on the ground, and I go up and down. Besides supervising, I also clean the building exterior sometimes when required for the harder areas of the building. There are five people on the rope altogether.


Every hour I check the speed of the breeze, and if it picks up, I get people down. We tighten the rope and restart the cleaning process. We stop work around 11 am as it gets hot, and we start working again around 3pm. These four hours are our rest time. We have lunch, get some sleep, and I check the target that needs to be achieved. We have to clean five floors in an hour.


We make lunch at our room, and we usually bring chicken or mutton with rice and some vegetables. We have Bangladeshi people working with us, too, and we four or five people eat together.


After lunch and some rest, I feel refreshed and we are back to work around this time. I check the rope and for another one-and-a-half to two hours we work on it. Any single person works for maximum of 15 to 20 days at a particular tower, or sometimes two days, and then changes location. We recently got a year’s contract to clean Index Tower, and I worked there for 12 days.


The shift ends, and I go to my room. I watch movies on my laptop. Mostly I watch Hindi movies but also Nepali and English. I like watching all kinds of movies, and recently I watched [Bollywood movie] Chennai Express. I cook and make dinner of chicken or fish, vegetables and rice. I also talk to my family back home in Kathmandu sometimes. I have my father, sister, brother, wife and one son, who is five years old.


I go to bed as I have to rise early. I will go home after three months. I have my annual leave of 40 to 50 days, and will use it to spend time with my family then. I want to complete two more certificate levels [at the Irata] because these allow me to work anywhere in the world. After a few years I want to go back to my family in Nepal and live with them there.


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