COVID-19: Ogun free zone workers protest restriction order, destroy property

The management of Ogun Guangdong Free Trade Zone (OGFTZ) has attributed the recent demonstration by some of its workers which resulted in destruction of the company’s property to the company’s efforts to enforce the lock down order of the Federal Government.

On the evening of April 13, hundreds of workers in the zone which is being managed by the Chinese, broke through the police defence and rushed into the Zone, throwing stones, destroying the gate, sentry box and vehicles, which compromised the security and COVID19 prevention measures of the zone.

According to a source, the protesters were upset because they could not move around freely or return to their states due and were forced to stay in designated areas due to the lockdown.

“Many employees are from the north and could not return to their hometowns due to the lockdown; so, they stayed back in Igbesa, Ogun State. Also, the tenant enterprises made huge sacrifices by providing food, accommodation and wage for those who have remained in the zone.

“Some of the employees who stayed are responsible for equipment maintenance, while the rest enjoy paid leave. Employees who chose to stay were required to stay in designated areas in the zone in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“However, the failure of management to clearly communicate governments policy on the lockdown and the eventual closure of the zone, made some employees believe that the zone had restricted their freedom, hence, the demonstrations.

” As a way of curbing the spread of the pandemic, the Zone adopted the measure of Exit Only, No Entrance. This means that those who decided to leave the Zone must not return during the closure period for any reason until the Ogun State Government lifts the restriction or introduces other new policies.

“However, some of them misunderstood the measures and demanded for compensation before leaving. The Ogun State Government, Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA), the Police, and Zone Management all participated in the negotiation, and settlement of the matter. But dissatisfied with the outcome, some of the employees, alongside certain people outside OGFTZ, attacked the Zone, trying to force the enterprise to accept their conditions for leaving,” the source said.

When the Sun visited the free trade zone, the entrance gate was destroyed and a truck was burnt to ashes by the irate workers. However, after a joint mediation by the management, Immigration Bureau, the local government, and zone manager under the guidance of Igbesa and Lusada police formations, and the zone security team, the demonstrators withdrew and the matter was eventually settled.

Expressing his gratitude, the Chinese Consular General, Chu Maoming, commended the police and other security agencies for their swift response towards quelling the crisis.

He said: “I want to use this opportunity to thank the Deputy Commissioner of Police and Area Commander, Agbara Divisional Police Officer (DPO), and the Igbesa DPO for their efforts towards securing the lives and property of, not just the Chinese, but also, the local people and employees. Thank you very much. Together, China and Nigeria shall overcome this pandemic.”

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