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IPP: Workers Allege Marginalisation

By on April 26, 2011

Nigerian workers involved in the execution of one of the ongoing power projects in the country have accused the Chinese contractor handling the construction work of flooding the project sites with expatriate workers.

Some of the Nigerian workers, who spoke to THISDAY alleged that over 90 percent of the technical staff handling the second phase of the 500megawatts-capacity Omotosho Power Station in Okitipupa Local Government area of Ondo State were expatriates, mostly Chinese.

China National Machinery & Equipment Import & Export Corporation (CMEEC) is the contractor executing the project, with the Federal and State governments providing funding as part of the integrated power projects across the country.

One of the workers stated that Nigerian engineers were excluded from the execution of the projects, adding that this development could make it impossible for Nigerians to successfully run and manage the plant on completion.

“A lot of people in this second phase are Chinese. I am not talking of the first phase. I am talking of the second phase that is an ongoing project and the Chinese constitutes over 90 per cent. The marginalisation is too much. The way they marginalise our people in our father’s land is too much. Imagine people who have been working under the rain and sun and it was only recently that they were provided with hard hats (helmets). If you look at the workers, you will find out that no Nigerian worker has safety boots. Imagine people working in an industrial environment without safety boots,” he said.

Another worker complained that the Chinese are also employed even as gardeners, while Nigerians are left with the job of labourers.

He also complained of poor remuneration, saying they are paid N800 to work from 7.30am to 6.30 pm daily.

“Our children cannot know us because we leave home very early and come back late. Before we go home, it is around 8pm. So, we beg them to help us on that one. They don’t use to give us safety boots and it was only recently that they gave us helmets. They don’t treat us well because they believe that we don’t have a leader. If any of us makes any small mistake, they sack us,” he said.

Efforts by THISDAY to reach the General Manager in charge of the Project Site, Mr. Liu Zhao Long, proved abortive, as his mobile phone did not go through.

However, Minister of State for Power, Mr. Nuhu Wya, had during a recent visit to the plant, noted that he could not make case for improved remuneration of the Nigerian labourers due to their low level of education but insisted that the Chinese should employ the right calibre of Nigerians to ensure continuity.

“The number of Nigerians that are unemployed may be higher than the number of Nigerians that are employed. Suffice it to say that there are Nigerians that are employed here; we want to impress on having more Nigerians employed so that more food will be on the tables of Nigerians. Let us graduate from that point and we move to the point of remuneration. I think it will be too much to dwell on that now. You may not be able to argue on their remuneration because of their level of education. Let us get the right people employed first,” he said.

Wya had observed during an inspection tour of the facility that only one or two Nigerians were engaged in the project as engineers and argued that they were not enough.

He said the Federal Government’s Economic Management Team, of which he is a member had earlier resolved that all the contracts awarded by this present administration must have a clause to compel contractors, particularly foreign ones, to ensure that Nigerians at all levels are engaged in the execution of all the stages of the projects.

Source : Thisday