Casual workers engaged by the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the just concluded African Senior Athletics Championship, on Monday, staged a protest over alleged unpaid allowances by their employers.
The five-day continental athletics championship tagged Asaba 2018 was held at the recently completed Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba, Delta State.
The protesters including menial workers and private security guards trooped to the streets of the Delta State capital, temporary halting traffic particularly along the popular Nnebisi road.
Most of protesting casual workers, it was learnt, were engaged by private consultants, including Dambiri Global, Top Private Security (TPS) and Force Guard (FG) that got contracts from the LOC headed by Solomon Ogba and the chairman of the state’s Sports Commission, Tonobok Okowa.
Hurling abuses on the organisers of the athletics showpiece over their il-treatment, the protesters threatened to cripple commercial activities in the metropolis, and indefinitely block the stadium entrance until their demands are met.
It took the intervention of soldiers and men of the Eagle Net of the state police command before they were evacuated from the road to the premises of the sports commission.
One of the protesters who simply identified herself as Amaka, supported by her counterpart, Grace, lamented that they were made to resume clean-up by 5.30am and close after contingents, Very Important Persons (VIPs) and spectators had left around 8.30pm on a daily basis.
Amaka said they became angry after the N15,000, being the total amount for the five days, was slashed to N7,500, and some persons were shortlisted for N6,000.
“We were promised N3,000 for a full day work. We resume 5.30am and close around 8.30pm. We fetched water with buckets for three days after the stadium over head storage water tank collapsed which was not the initial agreement.
“To get our money again today (yesterday) became a problem because they felt they have used us and they can dump us,” she fumed.
One of the aggrieved guards, nicknamed ‘Africa’ bitterly complained against a consultant for plotting to short-pay them.
He expressed shock that they were subjected to inhuman treatment immediately the event came to a close last Sunday night.
“We provided security throughout the event. Prior to the championship, we were trained for two weeks without pay, accommodation and feeding. No provision was made for our transportation and feeding during the five days. Now, the event has come and gone, someone, somewhere wants to shortchange us,” he said.
They said peace will not reign unless they were paid according to the initial agreement during training.
As at the time of filing this report, the chairman of the LOC, Solomon Ogba, a Deltan, could not be reached as he was said to have fled the stadium in the heat of the protest to a hotel from where he was reportedly whisked to the airport.