The following is a translation of an article by D. Tamani, published in French in the Algerian daily, El Watan.
The only employer who does not despise the manual labor of the people
of the slum is called Oued Aissi. This tributary of the Oued Sebaou
employs more than fifty workers who are in charge of stripping
it all day long.
They do not consider themselves looters of the sand; they are workers
like any others, simply trying to meet their families’
On account of the sun, we start very early in the morning,
around six’o clock, and we stop at ten o’clock. We return
at 4:00 p.m., Amer, 26 years old, tells us. He has never been to
school and has never worked anywhere else.
I looked for work
everywhere. Nobody wanted me. The Italians who were building the dam
(Taksebt) have not answered my request.
Salim, 24 years old, left school in ninth grade. He went directly to
I have been here since I was 14 years old. Since the
extraction of sand has become forbidden, and security services put
pressure on the carriers, things have become complicated for the oued
We put in three days to fill up a trailer truck with
sand. We earn between 100 and 150 dinars per day, Amer tells us. He
the policemen do not tell us anything, but when they chase
the trucks, we are the ones who suffer. The sand dealers pay
between 400 and 600 DA for the cargo and resell it for 5,000 DA. They
have become scarce since their vehicles are being seized.
The community of the oued has its martyrs. Eyes full of tears, they
remember Souali Ziane, 48 years olds, buried alive last September
under a sand mass. He had dug too deeply. Tons of sand fell on his
head. The eldest of his six children took his place. He knows he must
avoid the holes that are too deep. Khechouane Slimane, 40 years old,
was victim of a similar accident, but he suffered burst
He carries a bag outside of his belly, his friend
We take up a collection to give his family a bag of
semolina, he adds. Unknown to the public authorities, these men
work underground and die in the general indifference.