Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –By Albert OGRAKA:
The Amalgamated Union of Public Corporations, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) has planned a major showdown with the Delta state government over its concluded plot to concession the state owned Delta Transport Services Limited, operators of Delta Line, following a recent public invitation for pre-qualification of bidders for the partial privatization of the transport outfit.
Meanwhile, Blank NEWS Online dependable sources have revealed that Governor Ifeanyi Arthur Okowa’s notable kinsmen, Mr. Kingsley Emu (Commissioner for Economic Planning) and Mr. Lawrence Oshiegbu, former Rural Development Agency (RDA) boss in the state have been pencilled down for the buy-off which stands at 60/40 percent equity shares between the private investor and Delta state government respectively.
The state government, through the Ministry of Finance has already advertised for bidders, an action that may have angered the leadership of AUPCTRE who claimed that the union had been sidelined, despite its stringent moves to resist such plot in the past.
In its defence and defiance, the state government insisted that Governor Okowa’s approval of the involvement of the private sector in the operation and partial ownership of the government owned transport outfit was in pursuance of its agenda to improve inter and intra-state transport.
But the State Executive Council of the Union, during its emergency meeting has registered dismay over the concessioning plot by government without wide consultations with relevant stakeholders and the Labour unions.
On Thursday, December 15, 2016, the Union’s leadership addressed the workers at the Delta Line workshop on the Asaba-Onitsha express way, threathenig a peaceful protest to halt the sale of up to 60 percent of the equity of Delta Line to the governor’s surrogates.
While addressing the aggrieved workers, the state chairman of AUPCTRE, Comrade Jerry Okousun, accompanied by members of the state and branch executives, said the Union is taken aback by government for the partial privatization, explaining that the concessioning of Delta Line to a private owner at 60 percent is an indirect plan for jobs lay-off which strongly indicates that the buyer with an upper hand would dictate the fate of the nearly 750 workers.
Comrade Okousun, who appealed to the vexed workers to be patient and calm while the issue rages, therefore called on the state governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa to have a rethink by urgently halting the sale of the only state owned transport outfit, and instead restructure it in line with the aim of providing affordable transportation for Deltans, as part of fulfilling his campaign promises.
He promised the staff of Delta Line that the union will not rest on its oars in pursuing the welfare of workers since it is a known fact that privatization oftentimes lead to retrenchment, poverty and youth restiveness, saying that plot by government largely negates the governor’s advocacy of prosperity for all Deltans.
The workers, who were spoiled for showdown with the state government were chanting solidarity songs and saying “We don’t need recapitalization but restructuring.”
Also AUPCTRE, had in a letter addressed to the state governor and signed by its state Secretary, Comrade Emeni Fidel argued that the state government’s move for an outright sale negates the purpose of establishing the transport outfit which is purely for social services but not for profit maximization as envisioned by the present Governor Okowa led administration.
According to him, Delta Line company presently pay a monthly wage bill of N26 million with an average Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) of N42 million, adding that the
new management of Delta Transport Services Limited have made giant strides with prompt payment of workers’ salaries, gradual loan repayment to Zenith and Wetland banks, payment of contractors and cooperatives as well as prompt maintenance of vehicles and retrieving of vehicles used as collaterals.
Recall, however that during his ministerial press briefing of Wednesday, November 30, 2016, the Commissioner for Transport, Mr. Vincent Amejuma Uduaghan, whose Directorate shoulders the responsibility of Delta State Transport Services Limited, operators of Delta Line, said “The Directorate has effectively keyed into the SMART agenda of His Excellency, Senator (Dr.) Ifeany Okowa’s administration as relates to transportation sector of the state economy.
“The Directorate has created an enabling environment and platform to fully deploy all available resources within its reach in providing a sustainable transport infrastructure and an efficient service delivery for the development of the transport sector of Delta state”, the Commissioner had claimed, even as he also complained that inadequate budgetary provision has hindered the overall performance of some of the Directorate’s projects.
The Delta Transport Services Limited was incorporated over 25 years ago primarily as a transporter of passengers with nearly 750 workers, 38 terminals as well as a courier operation for the movement of goods and packages.
It could be recalled that the company, according to verifiable facts, may have been used as financial drain pipe by successive governments to loot the state treasury of its resources.
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Nigeria (Blank NEWS Online) –
E.I.C: Albert Eruorhe Ograka