Waste pickers to govt: consider us first for vaccination

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Waste and scrap pickers have urged the Federal Government to consider them first for vaccination as Nigeria received the first vaccine consignment on Tuesday.

They cited the vulnerability of their members to COVID-19 infection.

The waste pickers under the aegis of the National Union of Scraps and Waste Workers of Nigeria (NUSWON) at a workshop, on Wednesday, said they were more vulnerable to COVID-19 than the health workers.

NUSWON Acting President Friday Oku said despite the strategic importance of waste pickers to government’s recycling and ‘waste to wealth’ initiatives, they are usually regarded among the dregs of society by the government.

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“Rather than support, what we get often than not, has always been harassment by agents of the government,” he stated.

Citing an instance of the odious treatment meted out to waste pickers, Oku said while virtually every sector of the economy got COVID-19 palliatives, waste pickers were not considered despite their vulnerability.

According to him, disposable items used by the COVID-19 patients would still end up in dumpsites and in the hands of waste pickers, asking the Federal Government to consider them among the first set of people to receive COVID-19 vaccine.

He stated that as an affiliate of the Global Waste Pickers’ Alliance, they are not getting similar attention and support like their counterparts across the world.

General Secretary of the Federation of Informal Workers of Nigeria (FIWON), Comrade Gbenga Akomolafe, said self-employed youths in the informal sector are facing a very critical situation worsened by the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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