Welders association plans protest against exclusion of PH refinery

By Adedapo Adesanya

The Association of Welders and Fitters of Nigeria has issued an ultimatum to the management of the Port Harcourt Refining Company (PHRC), demanding to be included in the ongoing rehabilitation of the oil facility or face mass protests.

In a peaceful protest at the Eleme Council Secretariat, the group said management had until Thursday to grant their request, expressing their dissatisfaction with their alleged non-inclusion in the ongoing rehabilitation of the refinery. of Port Harcourt.

The chairman of the organization’s Eleme branch, Mr Innocent Ejire, said welders and fitters in the area were pained that PHRC management had barred them from jobs during the ongoing rehabilitation of the refinery.

Mr Ejire called on the PHRC management to adhere to the Local Content Act by engaging its members, accusing the refinery management of giving jobs to outside welders while pushing out those who are members of the host community of the PHRC.

“Of the 150 welders and fitters they (the refinery) took, they didn’t take anyone from our community but from places like Bonny and Omoku; NLNG contractors must donate jobs to the Ibani Welders and Fitters Association.

“Welders from Bonny and Omoku go through these associations to get jobs in the companies that operate there.

“But here they are saying no host community will work and we can’t do ourselves justice. That’s why we’re saying come to our LGA president and give them a 48 hour ultimatum, if they don’t call us at work, we’ll meet at the refinery.

“We wrote a series of letters which they (the refinery) acknowledged, but they keep coming back and forth to us without giving us a favorable response,” he said.

Similarly, the association’s spokesperson, Mr. Daniel Omekea, urged the chairman of the board to ensure that the refinery’s management enforces the local content law by engaging local welders in the ongoing rehabilitation. from the Port Harcourt refinery.

He regretted that Eleme, being the host community of the Port Harcourt refinery, had been continually sidelined by the refinery, warning that they will resist all attempts to exclude them from the benefits of jobs at the refinery.

He also said that the association’s welders and fitters at Eleme are well trained and have what it takes to participate in the rehabilitation of the refinery.

“A lot of us were tested and qualified for the jobs, but they didn’t call us for the jobs.

“There is no welding and assembly work that we cannot do; we’ve worked on Shell pipelines and all the other pipelines here at Eleme, so it’s not a question of jurisdiction.

In response, the Chairman of Eleme Local Government Area in Rivers State, Mr. Obarilomate Ollor promised to look into complaints from aggrieved welders and fitters.

Mr. Ollor assured that the council would arrange a meeting with the management of the refinery to resolve the problem.

Andrew B. Reiter