From Paul Obiajunwo, Port Harcourt
The Port Harcourt branch of retirees of the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) 2007/2006 at the weekend blocked the main entrance to Port Harcourt Port while protesting over exclusion from pension after many years of retirement.
The retired workers who had issued notice of one week ultimatum to the management which expired yesterday (today) said since the management failed to listen to their demands, they had no other option than to protest.
The protest, which started by 6 am on resulted to heavy traffic jam along Port Harcourt Port Road.
Mr. Chris Nnamere, Chairman Port Harcourt/ Onne who led other protesters said they are not leaving the scene until the management addressed them on the solution to their plight.
He said the most annoying aspect of it was that the Minister of Transport had written to the management demanding a reply on why the retirees were excluded from pension and other benefits but it ignored the Minister’s request.
Mr. Chris said: “The Honourable Minister of Transport has replied our letter dated 24th June 2013 ordering the Managing Director of NPA to reply him in one week time but the MD is yet to reply as directed which is best known to him.
“Like I said during our press conference last weekend that we are entitled to our pension for life because we fall within the old pension scheme, especially as the Federal government circular of 3rd August, 2009 clearly directs on our issues.
“We are demanding the 10% gratuity and pension as compensation for premature retirement. We are also demanding for one year salary as compensation for those disengaged employee who did not complete the minimum qualifying period for gratuity and pension.”
The chairman said they would continue to protest until the Managing Director of NPA replies the Transport Minister as demanded. “We are also asking for the payment of repatriation allowance as was done in the case of 2008 disengaged employees,” he said.
A widow among the protesters Mrs. Worji Patience, said the NPA has exhibited wickedness against them after many years of service.
She said: “After retiring us in 2006/2007 they refused to place us on pension in line with the condition of service. We want the Federal Government to know that we don’t have a good management in NPA, we are dying of hunger.”
The General Manager, NPA Eastern operation Mr. Sunny Nwobi said: “The NPA Port Harcourt has no power to pay pension. It would be better they go to the NPA head office in Lagos.”