Pipeline guards protest 15-month salary arrears in Delta

Hundreds of indigenous pipeline surveillance contractors attached to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) have protested the non-payment of salary arrears for the past 15 months.

The contractors are in charge of protecting NPSC system 2C pipelines carrying crude from the Warri Refinery in Delta State through Edo and Kogi states to Kaduna Refinery.
Bearing placards of various inscriptions, the angry contractors blocked the on-going repair work in one of NNPC pipelines in Warri, chanting different songs, and vowed not to leave the site until their salary arrears are paid.
It would be recalled that the private security guards under the aegis of ‘Pipeline Right of Way Surveillance Providers Forum’ staged a similar protest last January when they barricaded the entrance to the NNPC pump station at Awawa, Abaji Area Council, FCT and also Izom pump station, refusing entry to staff, petrol tankers and visitors.
Inscriptions on some of the placards during the latest protest read: ‘NNPC/MRS/Bablink Pay Us Our Money’, ‘Delta/Edo/Kogi Community Pipeline Guards Are Peaceful People, NNPC/MRS/Bablink Pay Us Our 14 Months Salary,’ ‘All We Are Saying Pay Us Our Money,’ among others.
Speaking on behalf of the protesters, Mr. Joseph Etimi alleged that for the past 15 months, MRS had refused to pay their salaries even after several letters and protests, adding that they will no longer fold their arms while the company continues to ignore their plight.
“The supervisors are been harassed day and night by the workers because they are feeling that that have used their money for their personal gain. One of the reasons why we are embarking on this protest, is to tell the whole world that NNPC has not paid us,” Etimi said.
Also Aweh Prince, who is the supervisor, of Adagbrasa/Aghalokpe unit in Delta State, lamented that they had been suffering severe hardship in the past 15 months because of the non-payment of their salaries, alleging that Bablink, their employer, had been treating them like slaves whenever they wanted to pay them their salaries.
“We want to appeal to the Federal government to pay MRS to enable Bablink to pay us. They should not be treating us like animals. We are still human beings like them. Each time they want to pay us, they always stress us up. We don’t want this kind of stress anymore. We don’t want to hear any more excuses. All we want is our money,” Aweh said.
The Uvwie surveillance unit supervisor,  Mr. Edward Akiviawe, on his part said, he had been chased out of his house by the angry workers several times,   adding that he could no longer drive his car for fear of  being harassed by the boys who work with him.
“We are here to tell the Federal government to pay us our money because three months ago, they dragged us to Abuja where we had a meeting with NNPC directors who told MRS to go and compile the amount of money that they were owing us. They told us that they were going to pay us our money in one week time.
“They also told us that they wanted to fix the pipelines but that before they  did that,  they were going to pay us first. Surprisingly in May 2019, we received a disengagement letter from our direct employer, saying that everybody on the project have been disengaged including BABLINK as NPSC had suspended the project completely till further notice with our 15 months outstanding salaries yet to be paid.
“The most shocking thing is that maintenance work is presently ongoing on the right of way being carried out by an unknown contractor; so what is the guarantee that our direct employer has not been changed and how do we get our outstanding salaries if our direct contractor has been replaced on the project. NNPC has greatly undermined our communities and the youths have vowed to do all they can to ensure their outstanding money is paid immediately and we the supervisors will not be responsible for the actions of the guards/youths as our lives are also on the line. Here we are three months after the meeting in Abuja, we are yet to be paid. We all know how risky this job is yet they don’t want to pay us our money. In the cause of doing this job, we have lost some of our colleagues,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, NNPC- NPSC management from Warri Area Office led by the Area Manager, the Superintendent, Right of Way and a Manager from Abuja who were at the  scene of the protest, pleaded with the community guards to shield their sword, assuring them of immediately engaging MRS Oil and Gas so as to effect  quick payment by the end of July or mid-August.

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