Wednesday, 4th October 2023

Lagos residents lament resurgence of beggars

By Oluwatosin Babatunde
07 June 2023   |   3:04 am
Lagos residents have expressed worries over the resurgence of beggars at roundabouts and strategic locations in the state despite the government’s pledge to evacuate them.

Beggars at Ikotun Roundabout yesterday. PHOTO: OLUWATOSIN BABATUNDE

Lagos residents have expressed worries over the resurgence of beggars at roundabouts and strategic locations in the state despite the government’s pledge to evacuate them.

The beggars made up of different age groups are seen in various strategic locations, begging for alms, despite the state government’s promise, last year, to evacuate them off the roads across the metropolis.

Immediate past commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Olusegun Dawodu, had during a briefing, which had former Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, and the then Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, in attendance, in Alausa, expressed government’s determination to eradicate street begging and all forms of nuisances off the state.

Dawodu, who said the state had set up a special task squad to curtail the menace, said beggars on Lagos streets and roads constituted a considerable nuisance to law-abiding citizens, who are entitled to go about their businesses without any fear or hindrance.

According to him, the measure had become necessary to rid Lagos of all forms of environmental degradation, nuisances and risks associated with their activities and curb the menace of street begging.

However, the state seemed to have been overwhelmed by the increasing number of beggars and homeless persons who flock to Lagos in their numbers due to high commercial activities.

From Ikorodu Roundabout, Mile 12, Ketu, Oshodi, Railway road, Agege, and Iyana Ipaja, opposite Ikotun-Igando BRT Bus Stop, Berger area of Ojodu, Alaba Rago, Lagos State University (LASU)/Iyana Iba axis, located on the Mile 2 – Badagry Expressway, Lekki Expressway by Jakande Junction, as well as other popular spots, they ply their “trade”.

For years, Ikotun roundabout has been a strategic location for these beggars, who resume as early as 6:30.a.m, some with children clung on their backs, harassing passersby and motorists for alms.

The Guardian learnt that most of the beggars are able-bodied men and women with only few of them with disabilities.

Frequently, the younger ones among them meander between vehicles whenever there is traffic jam, knocking on car windscreens or stretching their hands into commercial vehicles to beg for money.

Aside from the nuisance they constitute to passersby, as many find their touching and pulling irritating, the beggars are also compounding the task of sweepers working for the Lagos Waste Management Authority (LAWMA).

It was also observed that some got married and had children in the business of begging.

A shop owner in the area, Ajoke Aina, said: “Although government had made efforts to evacuate them from the streets, the beggars kept returning in droves.”

She, however, said the beggars do not engage in any criminal act, but hoodlums often capitalise on the opportunity of being around them to engage in criminal acts, such as snatching of bags and pickpocketing.

A petty trader in Ikotun, Yemisi Olagun, said: “The beggars have been given a house to live in at Igando, but they have refused to stay there, they prefer to stay on the streets and beg because of what they get daily.

“Although they are not affecting our business, they constitute a nuisance and deface the environment with faeces, urine and leftovers.”

‘Speaking on why they are on the streets, one of the beggars, Ayisat Umoru, a mother of six, who hails from Kano, said he has been begging at the Ikotun Roundabout for more than 15 years.

According to her, she leaves the place at about 8:00p.m. for Igando where she sleeps and gets to the Ikotun Roundabout as early as 5:00.a.m. everyday.

Another beggar from Kano State, who identified herself simply as Khadijat, said begging is lucrative and that she makes her daily bread from begging.

But a teenage beggar, Miriam Ibraheem, who dropped out of school, said she joined the business two years ago and asked the government to leave the street.

She said: “I was in SS 2, but dropped out due to lack of finance to continue. I need help to leave the streets.”

Speaking recently on the resurgence of beggars in the state, the Public Relations Officer for the Ministry for Youth and Social Development, Mrs. Adeola Olabisi, expressed frustration regarding beggars on the streets of Lagos despite the efforts of the government.

“We have been evacuating the beggars, but they keep coming back to Lagos and there is no way we can stop them; once you evacuate one set, another will come.

“We do pick them day and night, and where we keep them is saturated. We have started a campaign against giving beggars alms on the road, because of the overwhelming clusters they form on our roads,” she added.

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