Street sweepers turn beggars in Lagos…
Groan under delayed salaries
It’s nearly four months and still counting for the thousands of Lagos street sweepers working daily to keep the Centre of Excellence clean without pay.
And mum is the word from the various service providers licensed by the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA), forcing the street sweepers to endure a long spell of hardship, living absolutely from hand to mouth.
For many of them who The Guardian contacted, the last payment they got for their services was in December. A few of the service providers who have the means have faired better by paying the sweepers under their care up to date from individual pocket, while the wait lingers for LAWMA’s reimbursement.
According to one of the sweepers, “this is not the best of times for many of us, as we are groaning over delayed salary despite the risk and danger we face everyday in the discharge of our duties to ensure Lagos is clean.”
One of the sweepers, who was practically on her knees begging the governor to intervene, said: “In the last three months we have not received salary. There is no other place to go. This is what we have been doing for years to manage our lives since former governor, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, introduced the programme.
“For the past nine years I have been working with LAWMA, this is the toughest period. Our pay is a meagre N12,000, far less than the minimum wage, yet, we have been regular at our duty post in spite of the huge risks involved. We have been turned to beggars and debtors to survive.
We can only appeal to the governor to bail us out,” she said.
Many of the sweepers noted that since Governor Akinwunmi Ambode took over power in May last year, payment has not been regular as it used to be. One of the reasons for the delay, The Guardian learnt is the ongoing revalidation exercise the authority is carrying out.
The sweepers also complained that since the governor came into office, he has not officially hosted them, which has not been the usual practice. Besides ensuring that Lagos is clean, the Lagos sweepers, which are estimated at over 25,000, have been vital to the success of the All Progressives Congress (APC) at the grassroots.
Meanwhile, LAWMA’s Executive Chairman, Mr. Olumuyiwa Adejokun, while dismissing the insinuation of plans to sack some service providers, have promised that the delayed salary would be resolved very soon.
“There is no plan to sack any service provider, but I must say that any service provider that fails in his or her duties would definitely face the music. As the head of the agency, I cannot do away with any service provider who is efficient in his or her job because such is also helping me to succeed in my responsibility.”