Nigeria: From Waste to Wealth

INITIALLY when many of them ventured into the job, they did it with all enthusiasm believing they had gotten a means of livelihood. Somehow midway, they became agents for armed robbers. And for many years, their actions have ruined families.

The story is simple.

As cart pushers, local name for refuse collectors, moved from house to house collecting disused items, they became familiar with their customers, their movements and their surroundings. With these, they sold information to underworld, whose members in turn targeted homes, attacked the residents and stole anything they could.

Anybody who refused to cooperate was either maimed or killed.

But these situations changed in 2008 with the organised private investors fully incorporated into solid waste collection through PSP by the Lagos State Government.

With this, ‘cart pushing’ business becomes illegal and patronising pushers is at patrons’ risk across the state.

Two years on, that single policy designs to complement the efforts of the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), an agency in charge of solid waste management in the state, is today having a positive impact on peoples’ daily lives.

Now, 400 private firms are so far licensed by the government with about 15, 000 people gainfully engaged under the scheme. Nine thousands (9,000) of these were until recently unemployed. The rest used to be cart pushers.

They include truck drivers and their assistants, supervisors, office/account clerks, waste loaders and highway sweepers.

Each worker is paid a monthly salary ranging from N10, 000 to N40, 000 depending on the company and the type of duties.

Mr. Adelakun Joel, 28, is one of those enjoying his new work.

A supervisor with one of the firms, which he prefers not to be named, Adelakun says he lived at the mercy of good spirited people before joining his current place of work.

Though Adelakun’s income just as his colleagues is meagre, he is keeping part of it aside to enable him sponsor his part time studies in the university in the near future.

Similarly, Mama Rukayat as she prefers to be addressed is among the sweepers along Lagos-Abeokuta Expressway at Abule-Egba area of Lagos.

She gets to work as early as 6.00am and sweeps alongside her colleagues an allocated portion in an interval of three hours and then closes for the day latest by 3.00pm.

The mother of two says the little income she earns enables her contributes to family’s welfare.

And as far as I know, she says in Yoruba, every other colleague does likewise.

From another angle, scavengers, who comb landfill sites to pick such items as metal, plastics, bottles, nylon, and papers, are now making more money.

The scheme, has enabled them to get large volume of needed items at one location, which they sell to middlemen, who in turn sell to traders and recycling factories.

This reporter observes at both Abule-Egba and Olusosun-Ojota landfill sites in Alimosho and Ikeja local government areas, respectively, the presence of many scavengers in possession of bags where they stored these items according to their kinds.

Read more – http://allafrica.com/stories/201005110833.html

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