Andy led the Lanes emergency team, working on behalf of Thames Water, that first responded to the discovery of the Islington concreteberg.
A job with lots of variety is important to Bekithemba Mlilo and he has certainly found that working for Lanes Group plc as a CCTV drainage survey engineer.
His job takes him to many different work locations, each one with its own challenges and points of interest.
“Every day is different, and that’s what I like about my work. You don’t know what kind of job you’ll be sent on from one day to the next,” he says.
“It could be a railway station, a school, or a factory. It keeps you on your toes and you learn a lot about other people, and yourself to be honest. It’s never dull.”
Beki, 33, from Salford, is based at the Lanes Manchester depot in Eccles, Greater Manchester.
He joined Lanes in 2018 as a CCTV drainage survey assistant and was promoted, after undergoing specialist training, to operate his own van in March 2022.
He says: “I like being out and about doing my job. I wouldn’t want to be behind a desk. You have to put up with the cold and rain sometimes. But you also get to enjoy the sunshine too.”
CCTV survey drainage engineers have to be technically minded. There is a lot of data to gather. Complex drainage systems, most of them hidden from view, have to be accurately assessed.
Central to the role is monitoring and interpreting the video images generated by a push-rod CCTV camera or a robotic CCTV crawler camera as it is guided along a pipe.
Beki says: “You need to have a keen eye for detail and have to be able to concentrate on spotting defects in pipes. If your mind wanders you might miss something important.”
Beki, who has degree in biology from Salford University, had worked previously for a charter airline, the Royal Mail, and a shoe and clothing retailer before joining Lanes.
Now he feels he is with a company where he can look forward to developing a career. He says: “Lanes is professional. It has all the equipment and know-how needed to do a quality job.
“When we arrive at a worksite, I think customers think ‘Lanes is here, the job will get done’. And I never want to let those customers down. I always want to do my best.”
What would he say to others thinking about a career at Lanes? “I would say give it a try,” he responds. “You learn so much. There is opportunity for progression. There are always different things you can do at Lanes.”
There is also always something interesting to see. Often down sewers.
Beki says: “People always ask me what’s the most unusual think I’ve seen in a sewer – and one thing I say is that I went to investigate a persistent blockage in a drain in Manchester and found a champagne bucket and a football. Maybe the players had a big win!”