By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE), said it has concluded plans to protests the sack of Lagos state Water Corporation Workers on Wednesday.

The union stated this on Monday, during a virtual press conference jointly organized with the Renevlyn Development Initiative (RDI) and the Joint Action Front (JAF).

The National President of AUPCTRE, Comrade Benjamin Anthony, said over 391 staff members were sacked on 15 April 2024.

He added that three of the sacked workers have died.

He said the protests is meant to demand for immediate reinstatement of the unlawfully disengaged staff by the state government.

The union further demanded forensic investigation into the over N10 billion sunk into alleged phantom water projects in the state since 2007, urging the Lagos State Government to recall staff of the LWC disengaged allegedly on the grounds of redundancy.

Comrade Anthony also harped on the need to probe all water contracts awarded by the management of the LWC between 2007 and the present.

He explained that the illegal disengagement of the staff is an escalation of a well-choreographed process which started a little more than ten years ago when the Lagos state government conceived plans to privatize water resources and services in Lagos State.

He said that the action of the management of the LWC breached Section 20 of Nigeria’s Labour Law which explicitly requires an employer to notify the trade union or workers’ representative of the reasons for and the extent of redundancy before terminating the employment of its staff on account of redundancy.

“Three breadwinners, people who have put in as much as 25-30 years of their lives to make the corporation work have died after this inhuman action was carried out. Many are now in a state of despair and suicidal. The multiplier effect of this action at a time Nigerians are finding it hard to survive extends beyond the affected workers, and has jeopardized the lives of their dependents and exacerbating socio-economic inequalities. Even those who were not affected by the sack are demotivated and fear for their job security”.

In the joint statement, the three organisations blamed successive alleged corrupt management imposed on the LWC by the Lagos State Government for the poor performance of the water corporation in the state.

They also listed contracts that they want the current administration in Lagos state to probe.

The contracts included the sum of N4 billion voted for construction of Otta-Ikosi waterworks in 2007 yet it is not working, N3 billion expended on the construction of an Independent Power Plant (IPP) for the waterworks in Adiyan in 2010 which also included an additional N180 million expended monthly on fueling, N897m released by the Lagos State government in 2018 for rehabilitation of Iju and Adiyan Waterworks even though they are still not working, as well as the sum of N789m released by the Lagos State Government in 2018 for rehabilitation of mini and micro waterworks across Lagos.

They also alleged that between 2022 and the present a whooping N2.7bn was voted by the Lagos State Government and expended on the rehabilitation of Ishasi waterworks supervised by Mr. Governor with no visible result.

They wanted the probe extended to the purchase of chemicals for year 2023 which was N950 million yet there was nothing to show in terms of water production that year; N315 million paid as 50% advance payment to contractor for the supply of liquid alum in October 2023 which is yet to be supplied; N1.2 billion voted for purchase of chemicals in 2024 and yet no production of water since the beginning of the year.

Others are the N9.5 million for repair of chemical store gate at Iju and Adiyan and another N7.3 million for construction of falling fence at Apapa waterworks.

Comrade Anthony queried why staff should be the scapegoat for the questionable contracts awarded by successive managements of the LWC who themselves are handpicked by the political leadership in the state.

The statement demanded the unconditional reinstatement of all disengaged staff of the LWC government, a halt to the planned privatization of water in Lagos and termination of all partnerships and any other collaboration by the state government that aims to foist water privatization on Lagos citizens.

On his part, the Executive Director of RDI, Philip Jakpor expressed worry that the LWC management is sacking staff on unfounded grounds of redundancy.

He said the agency needs more staff strength, to add to the 588.

He termed the entire exercise as a grand ploy to finally ram through water privatization plans by the Lagos State Government.

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