Leadership (Abuja)

25 January 2013

Nigeria: To Artisans Poor Pay May Slow N156 Billion Abuja World Trade Centre Project

Construction of the N156b World Trade Centre complex in Abuja may witness some delays as management of the construction firm, the Churchgate Group, locked the construction site against artisanal workers yesterday.

This is even as the management is alleged to be owing the artisans who are paid daily, salary arrears of about five weeks.

The 37-floor project has reached the 22nd floor of construction in two of its wings, but is expected to be completed in 2013.

LEADERSHIP reports that the project which is sited on 6.102 hectares of land in the Central Business District, which construction commenced in 2011 is being executed through Public Private Partnership.

The World Trade Centreis planned to be the best of its kind in Africa. It is expected to have 132 residences with lavish layouts ranging from one bedroom to three bedrooms, duplexes, as well as several alluring penthouses, a landmark internationally-branded hotel and top-rate office accommodation when completed.

Facilities designed for the complex include basement parking lots, swimming pools and other world class recreational facilities.

Notices pasted at the gate of the construction site yesterday indicated that the premises was closed to effect "reorganisation."

One of the notices advised the workers who reported for work in the hope of collecting a backlog of their unpaid salaries to report at the Churchgate office adjacent the site to collect their pay.

One of the artisans at the site who pleaded anonymity explained that the financiers of the project pays the Churchgate Group, represented by First Continental Properties Ltd., 100 dollars (N15, 800) as daily pay to each artisanal worker.

He however alleged that the contractor pays N2, 500 to each of the workers and that they had not been paid in the last five weeks.

"I started work here more than a year ago and from foundation to the 22nd floor we have reached on one of the blocks, they keep paying us N2,500 daily. We demanded for increased payment and they stopped paying altogether.

"When we now got to work today (Thursday) we found the gates locked and a heavy presence of policemen deployed in the area to stop us from entering the site. They also put notices at the gate to inform us about a re-organisation and instructing us to go and collect the arrears of our salaries at Churchgate; that is why we are here.

"We have also tried to see the management's representatives but nobody is willing to talk to us. They merely sent somebody called 'Bola' to pay us," he said.

Efforts to speak with the representatives of the contractor also proved abortive as stern-looking policemen said they had no contact with any official of the Churchgate Group and were only deployed to the construction site "on duty."

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