22.1 C

Scavengers defy ban, operate freely in Abuja


3mins read

MOST residents of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) rely on scavengers or cart pushers, popularly known as ‘Mai Bola’ or ‘Baban Bola’, to dispose their waste.

Though garbage trucks collect waste in some areas, the vehicles are mostly found plying streets within the city centre.

Inhabitants of the suburbs are therefore left with the option of patronising scavengers, who move from house to house at different hours of the day, collecting trash for a fee.

These scavengers are also found on streets in some high-brow areas, digging through trash cans searching for recyclables such as plastics, iron or aluminium.


Scavengers digging through trash cans in Wuse. Photo Credit: The ICIR.

However, some waste collectors abuse access to people’s homes and perpetrate criminal acts, including theft and destruction of property.

In January 2018, a resident of Kubwa, Emiola Balogun, lost her 6kg gas cylinder to scavengers who picked it up in her absence.

- Advertisement -

“My gas had finished and I wanted to refill it, so I brought the cylinder out to clean it. I went in for a short while and before I came out, I couldn’t find the cylinder. My neighbor said he saw baban bola carrying it, but he thought it was probably leaking and I had thrown it away,” she said.

Such occurrences led to restrictions on the activities of scavengers in Abuja by the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).

In a statement issued in July 2018, the FCTA restricted activities of the waste collectors to approved dumpsites outside the city centre.

“Baba Bolas are to operate only at the Gousa, Karshi, Bwari, Gwagwalada, Kwali, Abaji and Kuje approved dumpsites as opposed to moving from one neighbourhood to another collecting waste objects across the city of Abuja,” the directive read.

Several reasons were identified for the ban, including vandalisation of government properties, loss of valuables and armed robbery activities attributed to scavengers.

But three years down the line, baban bola operatives have remained on the streets of Abuja, and residents still face the challenges associated with them.

A scavenger spotted along Wuse Zone 2. Photo Credit: The ICIR.

Taiwo Odewale, who lives in Jahi, told The ICIR that he had lost his phone to the cart pushers earlier this year.

- Advertisement -

“They have this stick they use in packing dirt. Sometimes, they attach glue to the end of the stick and pass it through the window. Whatever gadget they place it on gets stuck.

“That’s how they stole my phone one night some months ago. I know it’s them because when I woke up, I saw parts of the stick on my window. I think I have seen that stick three times by my window,” he said.

Taiwo Odewale, a resident of the FCT. Photo Credit: The ICIR.

Is the ban being enforced?

When The ICIR contacted Abuja Environmental Protection Board (AEPB) over the continued presence of scavengers in Abuja, they replied saying the ban was still in place.

Admitting that scavengers could still be found even within the city centre, Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the AEPB Janet Peni said the Board had an enforcement team that arrests and evacuates the defaulters from the area.

The PRO stated that the government and the Board had communicated the ban to the scavengers, some of who willingly relocated to Guosa and other approved dumpsites outside the city.

“When we see them, we call our enforcement squad. They whisk them to Guosa. The ban is still there. We are still picking them up and that is why they are not many in the city centre,” she said.

- Advertisement -

She noted that residents were encouraged to report activities of the scavengers to relevant authorities so that necessary action can be taken.

But those in the suburbs have no alternative means of waste disposal due to the absence of garbage trucks within their vicinity.

Odewale said he had never come across a garbage truck since he moved into Jahi a few years ago.

“I have never seen those environmental buses in Jahi, since I’ve been living here,” he said.

Peni, however, noted that there were plans by the FCTA to allocate environmental workers to areas where they are absent.

“The FCTA contracts cleaning contractors to clean the city, we only supervise. But there is no contractor that was allocated to some places like Jahi. But I think the next contract that is coming on board, they are going to allocate cleaning contractors to these districts,” she said.

Some of the waste collectors interviewed by The ICIR gave ignorance as a reason for defying the ban put in place by the FCTA.

Hassan, a 14-year-old teenager who collects waste from households in Kado-Kuchi, said he was unaware of the ban on scavenging within the city.

Hassan, a waste collector who operates in Kado-Kuchi. Photo Credit: The ICIR.

“I don’t know that they say make we stop,” he said in Pidgin English.

Suleiman, another waste collector who operates in Peace village, Lugbe also told The ICIR that he knew of no other location to carry out his business, which was his only source of livelihood.

Suleiman, a baban bola operative who collects waste in Lugbe. Photo Credit: The ICIR.

“I no know where to go. Na my only work be this,” he said in Pidgin English.

If you or someone you know has a lead, tip or personal experience about this report, our WhatsApp line is open and confidential for a conversation



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Support the ICIR

We need your support to produce excellent journalism at all times.


Publish transition plan for PIA to avoid repeat of power privatisation mistakes, experts tell FG

ENERGY analysts have challenged the Federal Government to go beyond the scrapping of some...

Turkish president will ask Buhari to shut down Nile University, NTIC, others during visit to Nigeria

TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan would again ask the Nigerian government to close down...

How women group constructs road in Abuja community to ease movement

By Ekpali SAINT AT about 5:30 p.m. on  Friday of May 2019, Khadijat Yunusa was...

Centre decries spike in cholera outbreak, tasks FG on urgent solutions

THE Centre for Environmental Sustainability and Development Awareness (CESDA), on Tuesday, asked the Federal...

#EndSARS: Falana says son will protest on Wednesday

  RENOWNED lawyer and human rights activist Femi Falana has said that his son will...

Most Read


Subscribe to our newsletter