The saying ‘one man’s junk is another man’s treasure’ reads true in the case of these men who have managed to eke out a living through scavenging.
Even though scavengers are looked down upon by the society, they have somehow managed to maintain a certain lifestyle from proceeds after each round of ‘hunting’.
Scavenging on its own requires getting down and dirty, and going through things other people have thrown away as rubbish, and eventually recycling the ones deemed useful, or even selling them to make money.
From time to time, we see scavengers going through our refuse bins and dumpsites and many wonder why they bother going through the stuff other people have already condemned. These men below have explained the pros of hunting for ‘lost treasures’.
Mohammed Fausit who was seen scavenging at a waste site in Minna street, Garki, Abuja, said he has done this for three years:
“I came from Kano to continue this job in Abuja. I like the job, it provides for me and my brothers instead of stealing. I do not want to steal though, I see my mates do better jobs. I pick cans, rubbers, metals, bottles, aluminium and other items and sell them with my brothers after washing or cleaning them. I sell my items in the market to people that sell kerosene, palm oil, groundnut oil, zobo and other local drinks.
How much I make a day depends on how much items I gather; sometimes I make N500, sometimes N700 or even N 1,000 but, in a month, I can get up to N15,000 or even N20,000. The money is okay for me and my brothers to feed and take care of ourselves. Sometimes, when I pick these items from dust bins, I see money and other valuable items for my own use. Some times last year, I picked N25,000 from the waste bin. I was very happy. The challenge I face in this job is injury; if you see my finger, it is as a result of picking these items, a metal cut the finger but then, I still do it.”
Muhammadu Abubakar who started scavenging in 2003, said he has built a house from the proceeds so far:
“I started this job since the second tenure of Obasanjo (2003). I married doing this job, built my house from scratch doing this job and still feeding my family doing this job. I went to an Islamic school but I am not happy when I see my mates doing better jobs while I scavenge. I always wish I have a better job but, in a condition where there is no job in the country, one has to manage with what he has and this is what I can do.
I pick rubbers, bottles, metals and sell. In a day, I can make N200 or more. One kilogram of metal is N20, one kilogram of rubber N80. I make up to N7,000 to N8,000 in a month. The challenge I face in this job is that some people sometimes accuse me of stealing. There was a day I was accused of stealing a generator where I went to pick things. I was even interrogated by a policeman. But because I do not have any other job, I continue to do this job so that I can feed and provide for my family.”
Another scavenger said:
“I will leave this job even to be a gateman because it is risky and people do not respect me as they see me as a thief; some of them even keep an eye on me whenever I am doing my job. It is bad, I feel I have a right to earn a living. I do not have a house or a family. I am working to get food and make a living; it is better than stealing. I did not go to school, so I cannot get an office job. I get almost N5,000, mostly in a month but If I have many plastic bottles, I can get N8,000 but the job is risky. If I get another job, I will leave it.”
Another one said he earns N5000 a month from scavenging:
“I hate this job because people see me as a thief or a spy. And they mostly chase me away from their homes when I am searching for discarded items. I feel very bad and shy of the job but I have no other job. I feel bad when I see my age mates or even people younger than me in big cars and working in offices.”
This is great!