Youths threaten to shut down cement firm over marginalisation

Youths from host communities of Lafarge Holcim, a cement company operating in Cross River State, have cried out over alleged marginalisation by the company, just as they issued a 14-day ultimatum to the company to accede to their demands or have its cement plant shut down.

Their grouse is that youths from host communities of Akamkpa and Akpabuyo had been denied the opportunity to work in the company while those from other parts of the country are given employment even when they are not qualified.

To drive home their demands, the youths numbering over one thousand, last week stormed the premises of Lafarge Holcim located in Akamkpa, to protest the alleged marginalisation and deprivation by the company.

The protesting youths, who carried placards with various inscriptions and chanting songs were, however, denied access to the Greenfield cement plant as they were effectively intercepted by a combined team of the army and police.

The protest, however, came barely few months after unknown gunmen killed a driver and abducted four contractors of the company.

It is, however, one in the series of protests by youths of host communities.

Addressing a mammoth crowd of irate youths, Youth President for the host communities, Ernest Awor said they would not hesitate to shut down operations of the cement company if their demands were not met within two weeks.

Reading a protest letter to the hearing of the Chief Security officer of the company and other security agents at the gate of Lafarge Holcim, the youth leader said, “We are tired of the injustice and marginalisation done to host communities. We want the office of financial director. We also demand that Human Resource Director be an indigene and nothing else.

“We want “80 per cent of job opportunity to be given to youths from host communities. We also want 65 per cent managerial positions to be given to host communities and Cross Riverians.

“We demand for 80 per cent local content in terms of job opportunities as it is in Ogun State and in other states where Lafarge Holcim has its cement plants. We are here to remind the company that failure to implement our demands will force us to shut down the company.”

Reacting to the development, Director of Communication and Public Affairs of Lafarge Holcim,  Mrs  Folashade Ambrose said: “We appreciate the cordial relationship between the company and host communities.

‘‘I have heard all their complaints. I shall take their messages back to the management of the company and we will get back to the host communities soon’.”