How youths make interlocking pavers to evade unemployment
As a way out of the nation’s rising unemployment rate, some youths have found a way of eking out a living through the production of interlocking concrete pavers.
When Daily Trust visited the youths’ roadside “factory” along the Lokogoma axis of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, they were seen producing different sizes and designs of the interlocking pavers, which are brick-like pieces of concrete commonly used as exterior flooring.
One of them, Jikka Austin, revealed that he realised three years ago that he could comfortably earn a living by engaging himself in manual labour while advancing his education.
Austin said as the dire unemployment situation stared him in the face, he decided to pursue entrepreneurship, which necessitated his acquisition of skills on making interlocking tiles.
After apprenticeship, the young man delved straight into self-employment and has not looked back since. As he enthused, the trade has not only given him some sort of fulfiment in being his own boss and meeting his needs, it has greatly aided him in financing his tertiary education.
Speaking in Hausa, another youth who is also engaged in the business, Victor Jikka, explained that the business is thriving in Abuja as 80 percent of houses built in the city have interlocks in their compounds.
Jikka was worried that many youths in their teens and twenties idling away due to unemployment seem unaware of the business, which he said does not require much capital to start.
Shamman Titus told Daily Trust that the interlocking pavers factory can be set up with less than N500,000, which, he advised, a group of youths can team up to set up.
On how the concrete pavers are made, Titus explained that a mixture of concrete, cement and chipets are mixed, moulded in rubbers of different shapes and allowed to dry.
Depending on style, some colouring agents can also be applied in the mixure to produce the required colour pavers, usually in desired patterns.
Daily Trust observed that the youths, mostly in their 20s, were not using the interlocking pavers-making machine and other machinery that could consume electricity, fuel or gas.
This means that the cost of operating the factory is minimal and can be set up with little capital.
Highlighting the challenges in running such a factory, another young Nigerian working there, Yusuf Usman, said the cost of cement and other materials for making the pavers could be a challenge whenever there is a rise in their market value.
Usman said the absence of any source of water constitutes a challenge to them, as water is a major requirement for their work. The industrialists buy drums of water every morning before commencing work to ensure hitch-free production.
Besides the cost of materials as a challenge, Titus mentioned extortion by government officials who, he lamented, visit their “factory” every month to extort monies from them. If the young men fail to “cooperate”, the officials, Titus alleged, they would seize their working tools, which they hold on to until they are given money.
Gideon Monday, who was engrossed with work and rarely spoke all through the interview, finally opened up when the issue of youths idling at home due to unemployment came up.
Monday advised youths to learn skills, even as he encouraged them to venture into interlocking pavers making. “Some are simply lazy. They don’t want to work hard in the sun as we are doing. We work in the sun and we get what we want,” he said.
The youths working on the interlocking pavers along Lokogoma axis of Abuja.