Ongoing construction work at the second Niger Bridge was temporarily halted, weekend, when unemployed graduates from Asaba, Delta State besieged the premises of Julius Berger Plc, the company handling the Bridge project, demanding for slots in the employment of the company.
They said the law governing employment in Delta State indicated that companies must employ 50 percent and 30 percent of their unskilled and skilled workers from their immediate environment.
The youths, under the auspices of Umu-Ezenei Association of Graduates, Artisans and Professionals (UAGAP), who were made up of both males and females, carrying placards and partially blocked the main entrance to the dredging site of the company, asserted that Julius Berger has failed in its responsibility to his host community.
Some of the placards read “Julius Berger, Employ Asaba Youths”, “We Are Graduates, Employ Us”
The leader of the youths, Engineer Christopher Onwuka, who addressed officials of the company, said they had written to Julius Berger and its subsidiary, B and Q Dredging, demanding list of employees to confirm the employment quota.
According to him, since there was no response from the companies, the youths representing thousands of others, embarked on a peaceful occupation of the company’s premises to attract their attention, adding that they were not asking for money but gainful employment for the youths of Asaba.
While noting that no Asaba indigene is in the employment of the company, he said the youths and people of Asaba in general were happy with the on-going work at the site of the second Niger Bridge, and urged Julius Berger to direct the employment of Asaba graduates in the company.
Engineer Onwuka said they would provide peaceful atmosphere for the Federal Government to complete the project on schedule and reiterated their demand for the company to live up to its social responsibility.
The Chief Security Officer (CSO) of Julius Berger in Asaba, Mr. Ferdinand Ugbomah, who said they had no Community Liaison Officer (CLO) intervened and reached out to the top officials of the company who then promised to address the grievances of the youths next week.
One of the officials and Public Relations Officer (PRO) of Julius Berger, Mr. Ojelabi, who spoke to the youth leader on telephone, commended the youths for their peaceful disposition, promising that the company will be ready to dialogue with them next Wednesday.
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