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Major road projects to suffer as strike action looms in construction industry

Major road projects to suffer as strike action looms in construction industry

A development that is apparently strange in this clime is brewing as construction workers in Nigeria have threatened to embark on a strike action which, industry stakeholders say, will put major road projects on hold or at risk of needless delay.

The federal government of Nigeria has numerous road project scattered all over the country where these construction workers are engaged at one level of construction or another as engineers, supervisors, artisans, carpenters, and a lot more.

Some of the ongoing road projects that may be affected if the workers make good their threat are Obajana road, Abuja-Kano Road, Bodo-Bonny road, East-West road, Lagos-Ibadan expressway road, Kogi-Auchi road and Zaria-Sokoto road.

Any delay in the delivery of these road projects have ripple effects on not only commuters, trade and commerce, but also on the economy which will be put further on slow motion. The delay in the completion of the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, for instance, has been a nightmare to motorists.

The construction workers under the auspices of Construction and Civil Engineering Senior Staff Association (CCESSA) and National Union of Civil Engineering Construction Furniture and Wood Workers (NUCECFWW) say they are worried over the lingering disagreement between the Federal Ministry of Works and their employers – Federation of Construction Industry (FOCI).

This disagreement, the workers lamented at a press briefing in Abuja, has led to the sacking of about 3,000 of their members by their employers.

The two unions, which are affiliates of Trade Union Congress of Nigeria (TUC) and Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) noted that activities in the construction industry have suffered considerable slowdown as a result of the disagreement between the contractors handling various civil construction projects for the federal government and the federal ministry of works.

The disagreement, according to them, is as a result of alleged unilateral imposition of new standard conditions of contracts by the minister, David Umahi, contrary to the existing conditions as approved by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP).

CCESSA and NUCECFWW Presidents, Ayodeji Adeyemo and Stephen Okoro respectively, lamented that “in the last three months, we have lost almost 3,000 to mass sack which is still continuing. If care is not taken, if the conflict is not resolved, in the next two months, we are expecting additional 32,000 workers to be affected.”

“The mass sack will affect the major roads being handled by the major construction companies like RCC, Setraco, Salini, and others. This contrasts with the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Tinubu.

Currently, we have lost over 50 percent of our members as a result of the disagreement; this situation is bound to further increase poverty and insecurity that the country is grappling with currently,” they said.

The unions want Umahi to understand that what is needed now is a form of bail-out for the distressed construction sector, not any form of conflict. They added that the unions are concerned about the impact of an unresolved conflict on investor-confidence in the stability of the country’s business environment.

The unions appealed to the federal government to, as a matter of urgency, come up with a clear policy on strict adherence to contract payment terms.