THE problem of street kids is found almost in every part of the world and Zambia is no exception to the setback.
These are homeless children who spend day and night on the street and often times become protégé of gangsters, and turn violent to strangers.
Many streets kids not only in Lusaka but in many Zambia’s cities and towns end up doing criminal or unethical activities which may vary from picking pockets to vandalism, from theft to dacoity, from rape to murder, from dealing in drugs to child trafficking.
It is therefore easy to understand the concern of some residents of Lusaka’s Northmead area for appealing to police to help remove a group of street kids that has camped along Mwembeshi Road because it has become a danger to people and property.
The residents have rightly accused the street kids, who have set up camp near the Northmead Assemblies of God Church, of attacking people and robbing them of their valuables at night.
Some though will do petty jobs to survive, become beggars or victims of sexual abuse and other social transgressions, the majority becomes the bully type or the ones who learn to survive through means considered illegal in civilized society.
Unfortunately for Lusaka, the majority of streets kids not only in Northmead, but including those near the ZESCO and Church flyover bridges have had a long history of criminality.
Ms Barbara Sogolo, a Northmead resident, complained that the street kids, who are camped right in front of her house, pose a health hazard because they were also using the area to answer calls of nature at night.
“They actually cook and sleep right there. They have also several times attempted to open our gate and enter the yard,” she says.
Ms Sogolo appealed to police to quickly intervene and remove the street kids from the area.
Another resident, Gift Chipoya, says that the residents are now scared of moving at night following reports of some people being harassed by the street kids.
Mr Chipoya said, “They grab phones, wallets, handbags and other personal items. They should remove them soon so the people can be free to move freely”
The cries of Northmead residents regarding lawlessness by street kids, we think, should not fall on deaf ears because these kids will do anything to survive.
This is because street kids are always hard pressed and are not afraid of doing anything illegal for their survival.
Most of them are illiterate and cannot find proper jobs while public also have overwhelmingly negative views about them.
The public views them with suspicion and fear while many would like them to disappear. Street children fall prey to illegal activities, sometimes in reaction to the above mentioned discretionary attitude towards them and sometimes in order to sustain themselves.
They live in abandoned buildings, parks, and under the open sky. They are deprived of family care and protection and have completely failed to assimilate in society.
Sadly mostly of these street kids are teenagers as small as between seven years to twelve years who everyday stare in defeat while sorrow and hopelessness play all parts of their lives.
We think therefore it is high time that government through the social welfare department comes up with viable programmes aimed at not only removing these kids from our streets but also to turn them into useful citizens like it has been witnessed in progressive African countries like Rwanda.
Persuasion and diplomacy, we think, should be the catch words in removing streets from their various locations supported by workable transformation programmes.
Handled properly street kids can form a pool of cut-rate labour. They can also be employed as house-maids, workshop boys, hotel servants, couriers, delivery boys and baby sitters especially for the girls.
No doubt street children are a huge problem that has a lot of causes which can however be minimized as they can also be seen as a waste of man power which harm economy, threatens security and of course it is totally against human right .
But whatever is the case, the appeal by residents of Northmead to police to help remove a group of dangerous street kids in their area should be attended to promptly.