As Staff Break Silent Over Unpaid Salaries And Production Shut Down Since 2018
Many do not know that the company commissioned in 2017 September had stopped “manufacturing” since August 2018 (less than a year after being commissioned) and is almost getting to be down. Sources say reasons for non-activity is the “company’s inability to import SKD (semi-knocked down) meter components” even with available product off-takers/market. Obviously the factory is not a manufacturing facility as we were made to believe but only assembles knocked electric meter components imported from China. This wouldn’t be an issue, actually, provided the assembling activities were still ongoing and salaries were being paid to workers to justify the rationale the Government embarked on that investment ab initio.
Sadly, as at yesterday, some categories of workers have been owed over three months’ salaries while others are in their fifth month of non-payment as contract staff. As we write, many top functionaries of the company have either resigned or have threatened to do so. Information reaching us today confirms that the Government, having gotten wind of a planned protest scheduled for Monday 30/09/19 have made frantic and face-saving effort to settle one month of the outstanding workers’ salary bills to avoid embarrassment. Did we have to get to this level before we start running around?
It is unfortunate to see such an investment under the State Leadership of professional finance managers go down within such a short period of time. One is tempted to ask: were there no feasibility and viability studies before embarking on this huge-capital intensive project? Was it mere politics or are there are things the people of the State are not told about the ownership structure, management arrangement and third party agreement which are suspected are primary reasons for the sudden collapse of activities in the company? Is this going to be the fate of all other “industrial” outfits that the Government of Akwa Ibom under Gov. Udom Emmanuel have embarked on?
There is no intention to make any political points here, but for the sake of Akwa Ibom’s people fund sunk into that project and the welfare of the of Akwa Ibom sons and daughters (mostly junior staff, as all top officials of the company are non-Akwa Ibomites) who are employed in the company and their families, we appeal to the Government of Akwa Ibom to take immediate resuscitation and intervention actions to get the company back on track and also settle all outstanding workers’ salaries and other liabilities. That done, the Government should commence the process of complete privatization of the company, withdraw all political office holders who are currently exercising managerial powers over the company for efficiency. At least we can see that such decisions gave Champion Brewery a success today.
By Fabian Emmanuel
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