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Obajana plant truck drivers protest alleged ‘unfair treatment’

Trailer drivers working at the Obajana cement factory, Kogi State, have been protesting alleged “unfair treatment†by the management of the company.

The protesters were said to have blocked the only access road leading to Kabba since the early hours of Monday.

The drivers used their trucks to block major entry routes to Obajana factory site of Dangote, as many of the drivers were seen demonstrating despite heavy security presence.

The angry truck drivers were demanding for the removal of the management over unhealthy industry practices against them.

Speaking with our correspondent on the side-lines of the protest in confidence, one of the drivers said the officers had penchant for inflicting financial injuries on the drivers and alleged illegal deductions from their salaries for flimsy excuses ranging from repairs of vehicles and damage to bags of cement.

He noted that the action of the management had affected the financial situations of drivers, adding that some of them were now indebted to the company to the tune of up to a million naira.

He said, “The drivers are treated like nobody in Obajana. Sometimes we have to effect repairs on the trucks with our money to keep our job. They hardly give us enough fuel. These are parts of the problems we are facing here.â€

They also alleged that drivers were arrested for no reason and humiliated because they were drivers, noting that the drivers wanted these issues addressed without further delay

Another driver who also pleaded anonymity, said “Poor working conditions, poor remuneration, inhuman treatment of staff are some of the reasons for the protests†and demanded the removal of Head of Transportation, Alhaji Babangida, aka Obama.

He also complained that only N5,000 was given to drivers on a long journey from which they were to repair tyres and mechanical faults.

He added that the workers wanted change and hoped that their matter would be treated with the urgency it required.

Men from the Kogi Police Command and the army had cleared the road by Monday afternoon, when our correspondent visited, to enable motorists and commuters to access the road.

It was gathered that there had been no loading at the company in the last 24 hours as the company had been grounded as a result of the protest.

However, the Head of Corporate Communications, Dangote Group, Tony Chiejina, told our correspondent in a telephone conversation on Tuesday that the truck drivers were angry over the company’s decision to install anti-theft devices on the trucks.

“They are demanding the removal of such devices to enable them continue to steal fuel from the truck when they are to deliver cements.

“I have never heard of anywhere staff will get angry for installing anti-theft devices to prevent fraud and losses to the company.

“They have been adequately taken care of in terms of remuneration and so the company cannot and will not allow them to continue to steal from the company,†Chiejina added.

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