Commuters stranded as Edo transport workers protest

Angered by the refusal of the management of the state-owned Edo City Transport Service (ECTS) to remit money to the appropriate pension funds, aggrieved workers on Monday barricaded Government House, Benin City to protest what they insisted as unfair treatment meted on them by the authorities.

As a result of the action of the staff, hundreds of commuters were stranded for hours following the withdrawal of the luxury buses from the major routes of Benin metropolis.

Speaking with journalists at the company’s headquarters at uptown Ramat Park, Ikpoba Hill, the spokesman, Mr Abudu Briamah alleged that the managing director of the company, Mrs Edugie Agbonlahor has refused to remit the money to the pension managers.

Braimah alleged that the authorities have been deducting contributions for pensions since 2017, but the company refused to remit it to the pension managers and that the company was presently in arrears of over N360 million.

He said: “We are calling on the EFCC chairman; we are calling on the governor; we are calling on the Edo State Commissioner of Police to get her arrested.

“Why must she not remit our money to the body? She wants to kill us, she wants to kill our career.”

Besides, the spokesman also accused the managing director of casualisation of staff, non-promotion of staff as and when due, and owing of workers salary for two months.

“We are demanding for our November and December salary and we know that the state government normally pays the state civil servants November salary on 22 to 24 every month. But up till now, we have not received the November salary.

“She also refused to implement our minimum wage. Since January 24, to be precise, that is when Edo State started paying civil servants their minimum wage.

“From January till now, how many months is that? That is for 12 months. We want the state government to pay us our arrears to implement our minimum wage, to put an end to the casualisation of staff. We want them to be staffed. We want the staff to be promoted because since 2015 till now, she refused to promote workers,” he alleged.

He also alleged that the MD of the company collects bogus furniture allowance every three months.

Mrs Agbonlahor, however, denied the charges, insisting that their claims were baseless.

She added that some of the staff were trying to run their own personal transport lines even as workers, an action which she vehemently kicked against.

Edugie said she decided to put them on suspension to enable the management to carry out their investigations.

“I said the essence of this protest has nothing to do with the issues of pension.

“The issue is that some of them are on indefinite suspension because they want to run private transport companies within the organisation and when I found out, I issued them a query, placed them on indefinite suspension while the investigation is going on. That is the essence of the protest,” she said.

She said it is also out of place for the staff to protest against two months salary arrears when the state government paid them for five months without working during the COVID19 pandemic.

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