Afusat, a fifty-eight-year-old widow is one of the street sweepers in Lagos State. She is struggling to make ends meet with training her five children, fifteen years after she lost her husband.
She told Saturday Vanguard that she was using the profit realised from her petty business to train her children.
Today, Afusat has secured a job as one of the street sweepers in Lagos metropolis. She is combining both the gains she realises from her petty trading and her salary to train her children. But, there seems to be no difference as the salary she earns as street sweeper is menial.
Although, she was grateful to have gotten this job, she seems not to be satisfied as the challenges involved is more than the stipends she earns as salary. When she started the job, she was optimistic that it would meet her demands. But, right now, she is completely confused.
Her words: “When my friend introduced me to it, she told me that, as a street sweeper, I will be able to feed my family and cater for my needs, that, I could attend to some pressing needs without necessarily going into debt but the story is different now”, she added.
She further said that, the only satisfaction she derives from the job is the opportunity it affords her to do other jobs. “The job is based on shift. We resume at 7am and close at 1pm while others resume at 1pm and close at 6pm everyday. The job is comfortable and our salaries come regularly. Some of us are traders, businessmen and women as well as students”, she disclosed.
Iyabo, a-200 level student in one of the tertiary institutions who sweeps around Ebute Metta area of Lagos also told Saturday Vanguard that she got involved in the job due to her financial constraints. “Since I started this job, I have been able to attend to some pressing needs but not all my needs. I am still struggling to pay my school fees”, she groaned.
She implored the state government to intervene and look into the possibility of increasing the salary in order to help improve their standard of living. “Our salary is N12,000 only but I know that it can be improved,” she noted.
On safety, she disclosed that, sweepers are trained from time to time on how to prevent accident. “We know that there are lots of danger on the job and that is why we are trained on safety precautions. We are also constantly enlightened on safety precautions, including how they should never work on the road with their backs to oncoming vehicles.
“Government also provides some safety kits, including nose covers, gloves, reflective jacket which prevent us from contracting health problems. Most commercial drivers are reckless such that they do not respect the job we do. There are cases where sweepers had been killed in Lagos”, she lamented.