Commuters stranded as Edo transport company workers protest

Commuters were on Monday stranded along major routes in Benin City for several hours following the non-availability of the Edo City Transport Service (ECTS).

PREMIUM TIMES learnt that workers of ECTS downed tools over allegations of unfair treatment meted on them by its management.

Several school pupils, who normally enjoy free rides as long as their school uniforms or identity cards were worn, were seen stranded along Airport Road, Akpakpava Road, Ekenwan Road, Benin-Sapele Road, and other parts of the state capital.

Some of the school pupils resorted to using the regular commercial buses that attract fares of between N50 and N100 depending on the distance.

Favour Ikponwasa, a pupil of Ogbe Primary School, Benin, lamented that they got to school late as a result of the non-availability of the free bus ride that they depend on.

However, workers of the transport company that operates both intra and inter-city services, alleged that the management of the company was not remitting their contributory pensions.

Abudu Braimah, one of the protesting workers, said, “Our contributions for pension retirement, she has been deducting it since 2017 but she refused to remit it to the body that is in charge and she is owing us over N360 million. She should come and pay us.

“We are demanding for our November and December salary and we know that the state government normally pays the state civil servants November salary every on 22 to 24 every month. That is when it is being paid but up till now, we have not received November salary, she refused to pay us November’s salary.

“She also refused to implement our minimum wage. Since January 24, to be precise, that is when Edo State started paying civil servants their minimum wage.

Another protesting worker who preferred anonymity, said, “Some of us have remained casual staff and we are still owed salary.”

But reacting to the allegations, Edugie Agbonlahor, managing director of the company, said the workers’ claims were baseless, adding that some of them were trying to run their transport lines within the company and she kicked against it vehemently.

Mrs Agbonlahor said she decided to put them on suspension to enable the management to carry out investigations.

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“I said the essence of this protest has nothing to do with the issues of pension. The issue is that some of them are on indefinite suspension because they want to run a private transport company within the organisation and when I found out, I issued them a query, placed them on indefinite suspension while the investigation is going on. That is the essence of the protest, “she said.

She said it was also out of place for the staff to be protesting for two months’ salary arrears when the state government paid them for five months without working during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

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