Nappy-wearing Thai bus conductors fight for rights

Nappy-wearing Thai bus conductors fight for rights
This photo taken on April 28, 2014 shows Thai bus fare collector Watcharee Viriya collecting fares from passengers as the bus travels on a street in Bangkok.

BANGKOK - Stuck for hours each day in snarling traffic, bus conductors in Thailand's sprawling capital have found a radical solution to a lack of toilet breaks - adult nappies.

Despite years of brisk economic growth, many of Bangkok's blue-collar workers find themselves on the sharp end of relentless urbanisation and stubborn wealth inequalities.

From rubbish collectors to factory workers and taxi drivers, for many of the people who keep the sprawling metropolis of 12 million people running, rising wages do not necessarily translate into a better life.

With congestion worsening, conductors on the capital's ageing buses spend long days on the polluted roads in the tropical heat - often with no toilet stops along the route.

When she developed a urinary tract infection, Watcharee Viriya had little choice but to start wearing adult nappies to cope with the many hours away from the restroom.

"It was uncomfortable when I moved, especially when I urinated inside," she recalled.

"When I arrived at the bus terminal, I had to run to get changed. I used at least two nappies a day." She was later diagnosed with cancer of the uterus and needed to undergo surgery.

"The doctor told me that it was because of wearing dirty nappies and the substances from them going into the uterus." With only a handful of underground or elevated rail links, many Bangkok residents rely on buses, cars, tuk-tuks or motorbikes to get around, and tax incentives have helped a growing number of people to buy their own set of four wheels.

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