By Bose Adelaja
How often do you buy edible items on the road side, especially around some popular markets like Agege, Ketu, Ojota, Mushin and Iyana-Ipaja, all in Lagos State? If you have been doing this on a regular basis, chances are that you have been spending good money on expired or substandard products from some dump sites in the State, especially from the Olusosun landfill in Oregun.
Situated at Kudiratat Abiola Way, the dump site occupies about 42 hectares of land. It used to be on the outskirts of the State, but due to the rapid urban development, the site is presently surrounded by residential, commercial, religious and industrial buildings.
It was supposed to be a dump site where wastes from individual and corporate sources are burnt. However, this is presently not the case as the items supposedly dumped there for burning now increasingly find their way back into the market, no thanks to some traders who connive with some unscrupulous workers of some companies to turn the site to their personal ‘gold mine’ to the detriment of public health.
A first time visitor to the area will not fail to notice the many commercial shanties where individuals in this line of trade conduct their business. Those involved are of different ages, including the elderly and the very young.
Apart from that, Olusosun landfill is a place where hoodlums, social miscreants and scrap scavengers have turned into an enclave of illegal activities. At the site, one can easily notice a fleet of LAWMA vehicles that carry wastes but investigations by Vanguard Metro, VM, revealed that as soon as these vehicles arrive, the traders swoop on them to bid with the conveyers who are majorly insiders or intermediaries to the companies.
With the help of these fraudulent waste disposing officials, the traders have formed an illicit business cartel which operates without the companies’ consent and purchase the ‘products’ at give-away prices and later resell to unsuspecting Lagosians. The items include alkaline batteries, seasonings, confectioneries, beverages and frozen foods from notable eateries.
In some cases, the intermediaries are paid to dump the items in the traders’ coffers for onward transfer to various markets. At the site, the traders pretend to be scavengers, looking unkempt during the ‘business hours’ but come out in their latest attire as soon as the day’s business is over.
Some of the traders did not want their names in print but they told VM that the place has turned their lives around. “I was introduced to scrap business by a friend. Initially, I did not see any sense in coming here but gradually I got used to the system, and today the business has paved way for me. If you see me on duty, you will think I am insane due to my way of dressing. But as they say, shit money no dey smell now. The business has changed my life for the better,’’ said a scavenger.
A trader who simply gave her name as Moriamo said she usually displays her wares at Agege and sell at reasonable prices. Asked the reaction of her customers, she said: “My sister, I don’t stay in one place O; Agege is big enough for me, all I do is to move round the garages.
Sell expired items at give-away prices
As soon as I come back from Olusosun, I sort out the products grade by grade to determine the prices. I sell the expired ones at give-away prices; some of the products don’t expire but the companies have their reasons for discarding them and customers will gladly buy at cheaper prices from us. In most cases, we usually arrange with the workers of the companies and the rest is history,’’ she said.
A scrap seller, Alhaja Sekinotu Aderibigbe said she usually make arrangement with her ‘clients’ to drop some items in her house. “I have a large compound where workers of various companies dump their unwanted products. After sorting the products, I ask my drivers to dump the rest at any dump site. The drivers of such vehicles will pretend they are going to the dump site but divert to my house at Abule-Egba,’’ she informed.