Thursday, 28 May 2015

Protest in RAYCON Construction Company

Protest in RAYCON Construction Company

Youths from Mbiaobong, Odiok, and Akon villages in Itu Local Government area staged a protest on Monday this week against Raycon Construction Company on what they described as the company’s refusal to meet the terms of their demands signed in a Memorandum of Understanding between the Company and the three host communities.

The protesting youths who erected barricades and placed injunctions at the Company’s gate entry said that for the past eleven years since the Company’s existence in their community, they have failed to include indigenes from the host communities in their employment scheme, pay compensation on environmental pollution, create CLO offices as well as organize in-house trainings for them.
In an interview with one of the protesting youths who is also the PRO – Mbiaobong, Odiok and Akon Youths Association, Mr. David Usoro said:
“We are protesting against the company’s inability to meet the community demands.  The Company has been in the community since 2004 but have failed to meet the needs of this community like creation of CLO office, employment, grading of roads, meeting with the environmental hazards that they promised that they would do to the community, and even the few that they employed on skilled labour, whenever there is redundancy in the job, it is the indigenes that are affected most.”

He added that efforts made by them to reach out to the security agencies to intervene on their behalf all proved abortive. According to him: “We have presented our grievances to the Commissioner of Police, the State Governor, Civil Defence and SSS office and all the security agencies in this state are aware of what the company is doing to our communities but they have never one day stood up intervene until when we headed on a move to close down the company, that was when the DPO in Itu/Ayadeghe Division came in to intervene on our behalf in June last year.” 
He further stated that if the company cannot meet their demands, they should peacefully vacate the premises to enable the community use the place for what they feel will be profitable to them.

The Youth President of the host communities, Mr. Aniefiok Udokang also said that the company has refused to pay the compensations which were signed in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), hence their grievances.  According to him;

“When the Company came in, they used to send out the fumes into the air while burning the Asphalt Plants.  So the fumes polluted our environment, our roofs have spoiled, the water, the crops and the lands became infertile for cultivation.  So we protested for environmental hazard and they went to the Ministry of Environment and obtained a green paper to bury the fumes and continue operations, thus neglecting us.  As a result of the pollution, we told them to pay us twelve million naira (N12m) compensation where each community would take four million naira (N4m) each but they refused to comply.  That is why we are protesting.”

Mr. Aniefiok continued: “When the Company came in, they did not have any formal arrangement with us in regards to involving the Community as stakeholders of the company.  They said they bought the lands from individuals; they opened and operated.  We discovered that a company of this magnitude in our community would go a long way to boost our economy.  We have graduates who are engineers, surveyors, etc who are qualified to work in the company and earn a living yet they are not employed by the Company.  Eighty percent (80%) of workers in the company are either from Igbo land, Yoruba or are foreigners.  So we protested last year that we should be included in the management of the Company; we sent out proposals, tried to make courtesy calls to the Managing Director but we were denied access.  Now we formed a group and registered with the government through Ministry of Youths and Sports.  We approached the Commissioner of Police, DPO, etc., but they did not attend to us so we sent a letter through the DPO – Ayadeghe/Itu informing him that we were going to close the place in June last year so the DPO stood in for us and we signed a MOU with the Company who agreed to give us three CLOs, one each from the three host communities to the Company including grading our roads every year, creating employment for your youths and giving us supply quotas. But the neglected our demands.  That is why we are protesting.”

The youths called on government to look into the situation and reconcile their issues with the Company.

THE INK newspaper tried to reach out to the PRO of the RAYCON Construction Company concerning the allegations tendered by the youths from the host communities; and in a chat with the PRO, Mr. Tony Udoma, he dismissed the allegations, saying their actions are mere attempts to extort from the company.

His words: “We signed a Memorandum of Understanding last year October or thereabout, and at no time did we mention any issue about pollution.  The Construction Company does not see where the pollution comes from.”

“The issue of the youths demanding for  twelve million naira (N12m) from the Company is a clear case of extortion from the company.”

“In terms of our social responsibility, we have lived up to expectation and employment is given to the people.  We even have in-house training for indigenes of the host communities where we train them; and even as they are on in-house training, they are still entitled to their salaries which has been a boosting effect to the economy.”

Mr. Tony Udoma assured that irrespective of the protest by the youths of the host communities, RAYCON Construction Company would not condemn the communities because it is not the entire communities that are engaged in the protest, but just a small section on the youths.

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