Lagos State government on Wednesday said a special team has been constituted to rid the state of beggers and hawkers.
The government said this became inevitable because, some beggers and hawkers now go with dangerous weapons robbing Lagosians.
Consequently, the government said it has rescued 728 beggars in the last seven months .
This was disclosed at a press briefing at Alausa, addressed by Commissioner for Youth and Social Development, Mr. Olusegun Dawodu, his Information and Strategy counterpart, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso and the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu .
The government said curbing street begging is necessary to sanitise the society and restore the dignity of those who have been sent on to the streets for alms begging and hawking.
Dawodu said a Special Team, which is expected to commence operation in the next few days, is necessary to address the menace of street begging based on intelligence reports that revealed that some of the so-called beggars go about with dangerous weapons, assault and rob innocent Lagosians.
He said the state government will deploy a lot of human and material resources towards enlightenment and sensitization via different media platforms.
The commissioner implored Lagosians to take alms to recognised registered homes, orphanages, rehabilitation and faith based organisations where they will be judiciously utilized for the right purpose of ameliorating the condition of the vulnerable.
He said taking alms to recognised institutions will discourage street begging and help the state government to address the menace.
The commissioner also solicited for the support of religious and traditional leaders, political leaders at various levels as well as members of the press in the area of advocacy and enlightenment.
He added that all hands must be on deck to discourage the inhuman culture of street begging which has the capacity to adversely affect the wellbeing of Lagosians.
“The road to our desired destination of “A Greater Lagos” has, among other man-made obstacles – street begging.
“As a responsible and responsive government, the Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu administration will not fold its arms and watch the state become a haven for beggars; it will take action to curb this menace.
“Street begging is a social vice that we cannot afford to watch attain uncontrollable level before we act. Otherwise, all the good plans and programmes to transform our state would be adversely affected. The same goes for street hawking.
“This has become big business to some groups of people. Our investigation revealed that beggars and hawkers (children and adults) are transported regularly from other parts of the country to Lagos with the sole aim of doing this odious business,” the commissioner said.
Dawodu disclosed that as part of the measures been put in place to tackle the menace, the state government through the Rehabilitation and Child Development Departments of the Ministry of Youth and Social Development has maintained a Rescue Unit saddled with the responsibility of rescuing and protecting the destitute and the vulnerable.
He said government is doing this by combing the nooks and crannies of the state to rescue and protect the destitute, mentally challenged, street children and beggars off the streets.
According to him, after being rescued, the state’s rehabilitation centres and child friendly homes usually provide them with treatment, psychosocial therapy and vocational training with the aim of making them useful to themselves and the society.
Odumosu at the briefing said beggars and hawkers are constituting nuisance and security risk in the state.