Swimmers and divers in Bauchi do brisk business
Body weight, size of customer and luggage determines the fee to be paid
OCAL swimmers and divers in Bauchi local government area are making brisk business ferrying birth registration officials and residents across rivers to registration centres in some communities.
Swimmers and divers charge between N150 ($ 0.48) and N300 to carry officials across the Zungur and Dindima rivers, two rivers that must be crossed to reach some rural communities.
LUsman Yusuf, a swimmer, said the amount charged depended on the size, body weight and luggage of their clients.
“A jumbo-size child pays a higher fee than a mini-size adult.
“What matters is the size and body weight, not age,” he said.
Yusuf explained that the business had been thriving for a long time, especially during rainy seasons as there was no bridge connecting the communities across the river. He said in 2012, the state government provided two canoes for use in ferrying people across the rivers at a paltry fee, but the canoes had now become scraps.
According to him, clients are carried on necks, backs or allowed to move while the swimmers aided them.
“If a client has a load, say a bag of cement, flour, rice and others, we charge him separately for those goods. The business is risky but since we are getting money to feed our families, we have no option but to continue,” he said.
Another swimmer, Abdullahi Ibrahim, said their business was booming. Bookings in adavance.
“People seeking to cross the river even book in advance in spite of our charges,” Ibrahim said.
Some clients who spoke to NAN said the situation was worrisome, especially now that the rainy season was getting to its peak and the water volume would increase.
Hanatu Ayabu, a client, said “crossing the river, either being carried or aided by these boys”, was very risky.
“Sometimes if the water volume increases, you have to struggle with the swimmers to make it to the other side of the river,” she said.
Yusuf Saka, National Planning Commission monitor in charge of Bauchi local government area, said 17 officials (registrars) assigned to cover parts of Zungur and Galambi districts, cross the rivers daily to perform their duties.
“The officials are covering villages like Derum, Zungur, Balenchi, Dilobo and Falke across the Dindima and Zungur rivers.
“The officials use the swimmers and divers to cross to their places of assignment,” Saka said.
Mohammed Sule, a client, lamented that the situation was affecting the education of his children, who were studying in Bauchi city and had to cross the river.
“Sometimes they have to skip schools if the volume of water and tide is high.
“They always get to their school very late.
“My worry is that apart from reporting late, they get to school very tired and soaked after crossing the river,” he said. – NAN
PROVIDING A SERVICE: Young men are paid to assist people across rivers in Nigeria where there are no bridges.