A group of manual labourers have been spotted illegally dredging sand from the bed of the River Osun around Gbodofon Bridge, Osogbo.
Their dredging activities that have been going on for days drew the interest of bioreports and during a visit to the site, the foreman who preferred to be called Wale in an interview disclosed that the dredging of the sand from the river bed was a private venture and a means to financially empower himself and the people working for him.
He revealed that payment is daily as they normally work from morning to evening every day except on Sundays.
Wale stated that the sand dredged from the river bed would be sold to sand dealers who in turns sell to contractors and to builders.
According to him, a big truck full of sand sells for twenty-three thousand Naira while a Bedford truck sells for between twelve and fifteen thousand Naira.
In his words, “buyers are the ones who will bring their trucks to this place after negotiating for the cost of transportation.
“All we do here is just to sell the sand after we dredge from the river bed. As you can see, after we dredge, we keep the sand under the sun to dry.
“We don’t sell wet sand because it will be too heavy, but after it is dries, buyers come along and we negotiate the price based on the type of truck they bring.”
When notified that their activities could be dangerous to them as they were dredging in the middle of the river without any protection, he stated that they were aware of the dangers, adding that it was because of safety they chose to carry out the dredging during the dry season knowing that the river will be shallow.
He maintained that the state government was not aware of their activities and denied any illegality associated with it.
“The state government is not aware of our presence here. Our activities here does not have government backing but whatever we are doing is not illegal.
“At times, government officials come around and when they come, we usually bribe them and they allow us to carry on with our work.”
bioreports reporter who disguised as a buyer was denied access to interview some of the workers.
Meanwhile, residents of the area have stated that they have no problem with the activities of the dredgers in as much as it does not affect them.
The Chairman of the Landlord’s Association in a chat disclosed that they initially challenged them but after a while, they let them be because they saw it as an honest business, adding that in as much as Wale did not pose a threat to them in the area, he is permitted to carry on what he is doing.
It would be recalled that between August and October 2019, houses and businesses located within the bank of River Osun were affected as a result of flooding.
The flood water which destroyed property worth millions of Naira caused the state government to embark on a dredging programme in 2020 in order to forestall a repetition.