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NEPZA assures host communities of 60% jobs in FTZs

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Host communities will be allocated 60 per cent of the jobs in the Free Trade Zones (FTZs) across the country, the Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) has said.

This is in line with the authority’s employment policy, The Guardian gathered. NEPZA is, therefore, putting modalities in place to ensure that the policy is fully implemented.

Acting Managing Director of NEPZA, Mr. Bitrus Dawuk, made the disclosure in Abuja while reacting to the recent Labour crisis at Ogun-Guandong Free Zone, Igbesa, in Ogun State.

Dawuk explained that the recent industrial dispute between workers and management of Goodwin Ceramic Free Zone Enterprise (FZE) located in the area was necessitated by the extension of lockdown by government to curtail the spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

This, he said, prompted several workers in the enterprise, mostly from the North East, to demand additional payment for their continued stay. “Despite repeated pleas by the zone’s management and security agencies encouraging the workers to stay in order not to expose themselves to the COVID-19 pandemic, the workers bluntly refused,” he said.

He expressed delight that the labour crisis had been resolved, contrary to beliefs in some quarters.“Until this dispute, it was not known that more than 80 per cent of the workers at the Enterprise of Ogun-Guandong Free Zone were not from the catchment area. The current Resident Zone Administrator (RZA) said he inherited the problem when he assumed duty in December 2019 after the retirement of the immediate past RZA.

“The authority is already putting a mechanism and template to redress the situation to ensure that youths within the vicinity and location of any zone of the country regulated by the authority are given 60 per cent of all job slots, while 40 per cent will be distributed to other parts of the country,” he assured.

He noted that it was later gathered that the zone management representative of Goodwin Ceramic FZE revealed that the enterprise’s decision to engage workers from other parts of the country was because indigenes of the host community were not willing, most of the times, to take up such available jobs.

According to him, most people in the catchment area of the zone often considered available jobs as menial and preferred more skilled jobs that are not usually available.

This ugly development prompted a meeting of the zone management, NEPZA and Goodwin Ceramics to address the demands. In the end, they reportedly agreed that there should be improved feeding for the workers in addition to N6,000 transport fare each.


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