The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipeline surveillance and security contractors have cried over the nonpayment of their salaries for 10 by UTM Offshore Limited. Some of the workers, who spoke exclusively to our reporter but pleaded anonymity, said that as a result of the situation, life had become very difficult for them. “Life has been difficult and frustrating.
Throughout Easter celebration, we didn’t get anything. In this COVID-19 period, we have not gotten any palliative from anybody. We don’t have gloves or protective wears, yet we are expected to work. “Some of the workers find it difficult to pay their children’s school fees. When their children fall sick, it is difficult for them to buy drugs for them or even take them to hospital for treatment. Some of us go borrowing in order to sustain our lives,” one of them said.
The man also said that unfortunately, their fellow workers accuse them of collecting money for their salaries and depositing in their bank accounts for selfish interests. He said, “Those workers suspect us a lot. They think we have been paid but decided to deposit the money in our personal accounts to yield interest for us. But the truth is that we have not been paid. At times, the workers confront us physically. Some of us go borrowing to sustain ourselves. It is a painful experience.”
A female contractor said, “It is very difficult to cope without being paid for many months. It is even more difficult for the workers we employed. This is because they are at the receiving end. They are the people that suffer most. “Can you imagine a situation in which a man leaves the house for work but he is not paid for several months? His wife and children will begin to make mockery of him. Each time the workers have problems they still have to run to us as if we were the cause of the situation at hand. “The problem is telling on our integrity. It is unfortunate that you employ people but can’t pay them. It has even made some of the workers to leave. That’s the experience we are having; and it has not been pleasant.”
The security men, otherwise known as service providers/security guards contractors, who monitor petroleum pipelines from Ishiagu in Ebonyi State to Emene in Enugu State, also gave UTM Offshore Limited, the major contractor, a seven-day ultimatum to pay their 10-month salary arrears or be ready for whatever action they would take within the ambit of the law. In a protest letter to the company’s chairman/chief executive officer, dated June 2, 2020 and signed by their counsel, J. I. Olinya, the surveillance contractors asked why UTM Offshore would continue to owe them. They said their counterparts in the western and northern parts of the country had been paid their entitlements up to date.
According to them, through their services, the NNPC was able to move petroleum products from Port Harcourt to Enugu depot, after over 15 years the depot was abandoned. Also, in a letter our correspondent obtained on Saturday, the security providers appealed to the NNPC to prevail on their contractors to pay them their salaries.
The letter was entitled, “Protest on Refusal/Non-payment of 10 months Arrears of salary for service providers/security guards contractors of the petroleum pipeline, leading through Ishiagu-Ebonyi State to Emene, Enugu State by UTM Offshore Limited.’’ Parts of the letter read, “The service providers/security guards contractors appreciate the NNPC for finding UTM Offshore Limited worthy for the award of such contract.
“They are also happy and confident that UTM as a company performed creditably in the cause of delivering its service to the NNPC, by bringing to life and operation, the Port Harcourt-Enugu petroleum pipeline, which was in a moribund state, abandoned and forgotten, prior to the contractual intervention of the UTM.