By Mashe Umaru Gwamna
Following the invasion of Abuja, the the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), by scavengers otherwise known as ‘Baban Bolas’, in local parlance, who go about searching for valuables kept inside receptacles and at dumpsites, scattered around neighbourhoods in the metropolis, some residents are now groaning under activities of these group.
Some of the residents, who spoke in separate interviews with Peoples Daily, expressed serious concerns over increased nefarious activities of these scavengers in the city.
They complained that the scavengers (baban bolas) have become a major concerned for most residents, as some of them have become nuisances to the environment.
While some expressed concerns that since activities of these Baban Bolas, mainly centered on waste collection points and refuse dumps within and around neighbourhoods, some of them engage in stealing of values from people’s homes, others were worried over their impact on the environment.
A resident, Mrs. Pamela Kim, who said even though these scavengers are focused on looking for valuables in dust bins or refuse dumps as the case may, as a means of earning a living, some of them have become nuisances to FCT environment, as they hide under their trade to steal.
For instance, one day, I washed my clothes and hung them outside for sunlight, before leaving the house for market, but on my return I was shocked to see an unknown scavenger with my husband’s clothes, and as I shouted and he flew away.
“Ordinarily, if they (Baban Bolas) come to a place, you expect that they should just go and pick things from the dust bins and move on, but recently, what do you see some of them have become something else, and by the time you search their bags or carts you will be so surprised what would be in there.
“The Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) and its waste collection agents, including FCT Neighbourhoods Associations should do something about the attitude of these scavengers scattered all over the city,” she stressed.
Another resident, Nancy Fom, decried that instead of the recycle materials like mental products and other things, these scavengers now get involved more in stealing people’s property.
“When these scavengers (Baba bolas) see your plates, pots, generators or any other property, they tend to go after these items and put them into their bags or their carts.
“Instead of being interested in picking materials like mental products and other valuable things, they (Baba Bolas) get involved in stealing people’s property.
“And with the growing number of scavengers in the Abuja metropolis, our concern is that the relevant FCT environmental task force should really do something about the issue, before it becomes even a more serious problem in FCT and its environs,” she maintained.
For another resident, Chidi John, who noted that no matter how scavengers go about picking things from the waste bins or dumpsites, the system of such job is bad , admitted that so some of them
actually steal while others do not, but look for values thrown away by residents.
“Picking things in the waste bins is also dangerous to their health, (Baban Bolas’), they need to be more enlightened on the risks involved in this kind of jobs,” John said.
In the same, Mr. Tayo Ayo, observed that most of the scavengers are doing whatever they could, just to survive like any other person in the city.
“It is not that I’m supporting the scavengers’ job, because it is very dirty and dangerous not only to themselves but the entire society.
“Actually some of these scavengers are always on high with drugs and other intoxicative substances, as well as holding of dangerous weapons to even harm residents who may want to do something to them, but in most cases they attack even when the residents are asking questions,” Ayo said.
However, a resident, Nyams Jesse, attributed the development to the fact that most degradable and non degradable waste materials are not properly handled in the FCT, as it appears being left at the mercy of scavengers.
“Although, most of them are rude and uneducated, sincerely there are some of them that are of good behaviours.
“There was an incident at Lugbe, when one of them “scavengers” stole a baby and hide inside his sac bag, but because the baby was moving, that is why residents caught him.
“But the key thing is for residents should be careful and more security conscience of their environment any time they see scavengers around their waste bins or their environment,” he advised.
Furthermore, one Edward Madaiki, stressed that there is the urgent need for law enforcement agencies, especially the police men in the FCT to keep an eye on the activities of scavengers in the metropolis.
He added that this was necessary despite the fact that Baban Bolas are helping out in recycling waste bins, as they still needed to be checked because their rising excesses.
On his part, a scavenger, Ali Sambo, who dismissed the claims of the residents, said the worries over their activities are misplaced and uncalled for, as most of them only go about their normal businesses.
“Most residents have a misconception about our business; we have been passing through various challenges with residents.
“So, we pleading with them to understand that we are not thieves, but people searching for valuables inside waste bins and dumpsites in FCT,” he stressed.
“We don’t steal at all, we usually pick unused things kept inside waste bins, for recycling purpose, just to make earn meet, we are registered members of FCT recycling association, but I don’t understand why we are usually called thieves which we are not,” adds another Scavenger, Zayard Kabriu.