Bounce Exclusive: Meet The Silent Foot Soldiers In Lagos Markets - Alabaru
It rained the night before and today the sun is scorching.
Everyday they look soaked. It's either from the liquid dropping from the worn out baskets or the fluids being expelled from their bodies.
These people commonly called bearers, but popularly known as Alabaru in Lagos run endless shifts.
You might just have finished a meal or presently eating while reading this but you do not know how exactly food stuff get out of the market and into cars and vehicles - it's on the heads of this Walking Army.
At the popular Mile 12 market in Lagos, where majority of food stuff transported from the north are distributed; the alabaru are no strange figures.
From tomatoes, to onions, from pepper to yams, these people carry goods for customers from one destination to another. They walk carefully carrying items that (sometimes) weigh more than they do.
Depending on the weight, quantity, nature of the goods and distance covered; they charge their customers between 100 Naira and 500 Naira.
Bounce News tried speaking with some of these alabaru, but they turned down attempt to get them on record. They claim the union does not approve of such.
A quick analysis of their physical nature reveals they are aged between 35 and 55 for women, while their male counterparts are much younger.
While chatting with Amina (not her real name), she told Bounce News that she was left with no other choice than to join the foot soldiers to cater for herself and her children.
She said their father has refused to take on his responsibility, and she cannot allow the children to be deprived of food and education.
For Ogunkemi (not real name) who is in her late 40s, she sends money back home for the education of her children who are living with her sister in Kwara State.
Ogunkemi was the third wife to her husband, who has been late for ten years. She says must survive without stealing or getting involved in criminal acts.
It used to be a brisk sprint across the high way with their basins full of items dangling on their heads. Now their task is more difficult as they have to climb the footbridge to get to the other side. The barricades erected by state authorities appear to be saving their lives and testing their endurance.
These days competition on the field seems to be getting tougher. Fewer people walk into the markets to buy in large quantities that require the services of the Alabaru. They are also feeling the impact of the recession. It's biting deep into their business and they wonder if and when it will ever end.