with Taiwo Adeniyi, Hope D. Ariko & Rejoice Iliya
Shehu Abubakar, 73, has been engaged in manual stone crushing as a trade for over 30 years now. The septuagenarian with more than 10 children was seen on a rock, which has almost been leveled to the ground in Pyakasa, Abuja. He said government has not done enough in providing for the elderly in the community, hence his decision not to retire until his body can no longer support his trade.
Why stone breaking where there are other jobs?
I am doing this because there is no work. I did not plan ending up here but I was unsuccessful in my several search for a better job and I needed to support my family. I thank God, with the profit I make I have been able to be a better father to about nine daughters and a son. I enrolled some of them in school from the proceeds as well.
Are any of your children in this line of work?
I work here with my only son, though it is not my wish for any of my children to engage in this business because children of nowadays are not as strong as we elderly people are.
How long have you been into this job?
Though I have spent only four years in Abuja, I have been in this business for more than 30 years. I started in Kaduna State. When there was no rock for me to break, my friends doing the same business in Abuja invited me over.
What has changed in the business from when you started and now?
Many things have changed from the tools to the manner in which we do it. Then, I used to sell a truck-load of stones for N60,00 now I sell for about N15,000 or more depending on negotiations so the profit now is better. And the number of people doing it now has increased because there are no good jobs. But customers are fewer now. The profit is high but patronage is poor. This is the greatest challenge I have in this business. For the past 30 years, I have mastered the art such that I have never sustained any injury that could take me to the hospital and I am grateful to God.
Considering your age and strength, are you fair to yourself by continuing with this business?
I know this trade is not good for someone of my age but I have no other choice than to continue doing it. I can’t start begging for alms to provide for myself and family. I have to do this to support them. However, if the government or anybody can give me a job with less tress, I will be glad.
Culled from DAILY TRUST, Wednesday, May 11, 2016