Making a living from scavenging is as old as many business activities in the ancient city of Kano. Thousands of people in the industry chain are hired as part-time or full-time employees, making a fortune from public waste. Daily reports from Trust Saturday.
Aminu Naganye & Zahraddeen Yakubu Shuaibu (Kano)
Street children (almajirai) for women and men, scavenging has become an established business enterprise that not only provides livelihoods, but also helps clean up the environment by cleaning drains, decongesting gutters, picking up litter and contributing subtly to prevent flooding in the cities of Kano.
Experts have said that plastic waste contributes significantly to climate change and global warming when it decomposes in the oceans after a long time, releasing greenhouse gases. Thus, they advised that establishing a cyclical economy where plastic waste can be recycled and reused is crucial to addressing the challenge of plastic pollution.
Daily Trust Saturday learned that garbage collectors supply plastic waste to small and medium-sized businesses in Kano.
Those who spoke with our correspondents said the company had given them a reliable livelihood.
Muzammil Sani, a teenager almajiri in Dan-agundi ward of Kano Municipality, said the cleanup has given him the means to buy whatever he wants.
“I search landfills and gutters for plastic bottles and nylons, as well as trash, trash and other materials from homes, which I sell to make money. I earn from N500 and more every day,” he said
Mubarak Hamza said he usually takes care of the business after Koranic school hours in Dorayi.
Furthermore, Kabiru Abubakar, 35, said he has settled in the Kwakwaci area of Fagge local government, where he not only survives on business but hires young boys.
“Young boys collect plastics and nylons from landfills or gutters and sort them according to categories. We measure them on a scale.
“We buy one kilogram of large plastic bottles at N50 and N30 for the smaller ones. A kilogram of sachet water nylons costs N20 while the strong ones, like that of soft drinks, cost N70. Every day, I buy 200 to 300 kilograms of nylon sachets of water. For the rubber plastic bottle, I buy 50-70 kilograms per day,” Kabiru said.
He said he usually washes and cleans them before taking them to industrial areas to sell.
“I sell it in the industrial area of Sharada. I also bring some to Dakata, and others, in particular water nylons in sachets, to the Viva company. You make a reasonable gain when you gather a lot. In fact, you can’t even settle the price of transport if you collect it bit by bit.
“In this job, I survive with my family, my parents and even I help others. I am married with two wives and three children. I own a house and a motorbike thanks to this company,” he said.
Another garbage collector, Rabiu Ayuba, whose business is in Kurna, said he moved to Kano town in search of materials with which to earn a living.
“Honestly, I thank God for this company. I also go out to collect, as well as to buy from vendors, especially almajirai. But you don’t get the same thing every day. Sometimes we get a lot and sometimes a little. We criss-cross the city, going from one dump to another. From this business, I do everything and even spend on my girlfriend,” Ayuba said.
Women are not left out in this male-dominated business either. Hajiya Maryam Isyaku said she inherited her mother’s salvage business from childhood. She said that although she was not picking from the trash herself, she was buying from young boys and girls and reselling to industries.
She said: ‘It’s been my business since childhood. I used to see my mother do it, and I adopted it later. I buy young boys and almajirai. I buy plastic waste worth 5,000 to 6,000 naira daily. I wash and clean them with detergent and sell them. I take it to Jakara, Kurmi and sometimes to Dawanau to sell it.
For Jamilu Mukhtar Magashi, who owns a recycling business in the Sharada Industrial Zone and has been in the business for more than seven years, this has been his main source of income. He said that the scavengers, although they are not considered important figures in society, have contributed enormously to the economy.
According to Magashi, the recycling business has different stages that involve a series of activities, from crushing, to recycling, to injection, where you would produce whatever you intend to produce.
He said he often produces buckets, cups, kettles, plates and more from the shredded plastic waste.
“We really appreciate the garbage collectors because they contribute to the success of this company. They normally bring bits of rubber here or we’ll meet them wherever they are. We can only work with what they bring. A kilo of rubber is usually worth N100 or N110, depending on the market at any given time.
“Here we produce everything related to rubber, such as plates, buckets, gallons and many other things. Most of what we buy are scrap gallons, jerry cans, etc. From there, we follow a series of steps to turn them into what we want. There are stages.
“The first step is to place the rubber scraps in a crusher. You will wash the crushed materials if they are dirty, but if they are clean you leave them. The next step is to recycle them, under which a heater will melt them. The final state is injection, where you’re going to put whatever color you want and produce whatever you want,” he explained.
He said that in Kano, there are more than 100 recycling companies like his, and most of them use what scavengers scavenge from various landfill sites in the state and other places.
Another Sharada recycler, Usman Mahy, said he usually buys empty soft drink bottles from scavengers, compresses them and sends them to Lagos to be made into fabrics and other sewing materials. He also buys rubber scraps and sends them to businesses in Lagos.
He said: “In Lagos they use soft drink bottles to make fabrics like textile yards etc. Here in Kano, we don’t have machines that will fully process them. The only thing we can do is compress them and send them. Sometimes it is better to send them there uncompressed because it is more profitable.
Talking about the importance of scavengers to the business, he said, “If we were to generate the bottles or the rubbers, it would take us a long time. It’s easier for scavengers to roam the nooks and crannies of the city to collect them. They sell to dealers in kilograms while we buy from them in tons.