Olatoye: Please empower me, I want to earn an income
Like a dutiful public servant, 45-year-old Monday Olatoye, resumes “work” on top of Oshodi-Apapa Expressway pedestrian bridge, at Five Star Bus Stop area of Lagos State, which he keeps tidy day-in, day-out.
Were he to be a government employee, he would have been due for gratuity, having performed the task for 10 years now. But sadly, Olatoye is not that lucky.
In fact, despite performing his self-imposed task for this long, he is “paid” by the goodwill of pedestrians who use the bridge daily.
Even though he goes home some days with nothing for his wife and four kids, he is not disenchanted enough not to show up the following day to keep the bridge spick and span.
“It has been long since I started doing this; it is over 10 years now that I have been sweeping this pedestrian bridge,” he told The Guardian.
On how he took up the assignment, he recalled: “There was a time that the Lagos State government tried to rid the state of beggars, and since I don’t want to be sitting at home doing nothing, I decided to be sweeping the pedestrian bridge.”
Over the years, Olatoye’s efforts in keeping the bridge free of filth attracted government’s attention, and consequently earned him some form of stipend. Unfortunately, that has since gone dry.
“There was a time that the state government encouraged people like me by giving us money, but since LAWMA came on board, the financial assistance that was coming to us ceased.
“By us, I mean other physically challenged persons like me that are doing this type of work in Lagos State because I am not the only one that is doing it across the state.
“So now, it is the little that the bridge users give to me that I use to take care of myself, my wife and the four children that God has blessed me with.
Yes, I have a family made up of my wife and my four children,” he stressed.
On whether his children are in school, he responded in the affirmative, “Yes my children are going to government schools, and the ones that are through with secondary education are learning different trades.
My wife is also into petty trading to support me; she sells biscuits and sweets in front of our house.”
Olatoye appeals to government to “please have mercy on physically challenged people like me because this kind of job that we are doing is not something that we can do for a long time, and I don’t want to be useless to the society.
If government empowers us, we are willing to do all within our abilities in order not to be a burden to the society.
For me, my wife and children know that I am not a beggar; they know what I do and they have no choice than to support me since it is the only way that I get money to feed the family.”