Swim­mers and divers in Bauchi do brisk busi­ness

Body weight, size of cus­tomer and lug­gage de­ter­mines the fee to be paid

African Independent - - NEWS -

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

PIC­TURE: AFP

PRO­VID­ING A SER­VICE: Young men are paid to as­sist people across rivers in Nige­ria where there are no bridges.

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