Sack Of Lagos Water Corporation Employees Remains Injustice That Must Be Redressed

By Ezikefe Moses

These times are already very hard and so this may not be the best of times for all 405 disengaged staff of the Lagos State Water Corporation (LWC). On April 15, 2024 the news of the sack of 405 staff of the corporation came as a rude shock to most Lagos residents for many reasons but most especially because it will throw a lot of families into needless hardship.

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The disengaged staff members, many of who have served for as much as between 25 and 30 years in the water utility company, are also leaving with know-how that could be useful in making the corporation achieve its mandate of providing safe, affordable and adequate water for Lagos residents, which is yet to be achieved.

With the suddenness of the retrenchments Lagos residents may be set to witness more cases of misplaced aggression, stressed citizens and suicide cases owing to the lack of due process that the action of the government demonstrated.

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Before the latest disengagement exercise, in November 2023 about 450 contract workers engaged by the former management to complement the work of the permanent staffers were also booted out unceremoniously by the new management. Unofficial sources say there were less than 600 employees working in the corporation before the current controversial exercise.

Flowing from these developments the question that agitates the mind of observers of developments in the water sector is the rationale behind the gale of sack being carried out in the corporation, given the fact that most of the waterworks in the state are largely under-manned. The few staff in any of the waterworks usually complain that they are deliberately denied the resources to run the facilities smoothly and affectively; which is largely why they have remained dysfunctional in decades.

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Although about 750 million gallons of water is what is required to satisfy the daily water needs of Lagos people, the total installed water production capacity of the macro, mini and micro waterworks in the state remain a miserly 210 million gallons per day (MGD).

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The restructuring exercise of the Lagos government which the new management of the LWC led by Engr. Tijani Muktar is implementing with speed would seem to shift the blame for the parlous state of waterworks in the state to the workers instead of the political interference that has influenced most of the decisions that led to the calamitous state of the water utility.

The angst that the exercise has generated among the workers is legitimate and must be channeled to taking every legal step to get the government to rescind the decision.

Section 20 of the Labour Law explicitly outlines the proper procedures to be followed in cases of redundancy. The law requires an employer to notify the trade union or workers; representative of the reasons for and the extent of the redundancy before terminating the employment of its staff on account of redundancy.

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Arbitrary mass dismissals and similar actions that contravene the law will only set a dangerous precedent of impunity within the public service and open the doors to endless legal processes that will stall the plans to make the corporation achieve its goals.

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The ripple effects of the disengagements will naturally extend beyond the affected workers, and has the propensity of jeopardizing the livelihoods of their dependents and exacerbating the socio-economic inequalities in Lagos State and by extension, the entire country.

Beyond the disengaged workers, even those who survived the current shakeup may be inadvertently de-motivated and fear for their job security and will therefore, be unwilling to take too much stake in making the corporation work better.

Ezikefe is a development enthusiast and public commentator based in Lagos

Joshua Okoria

Joshua Okoria is a Lagos based multi-skilled journalist covering the maritime industry. His ICT and graphic design skills makes him a resourceful person in any modern newsroom. He read mass communication at the Olabisi Onabanjo University and has sharpened his knowledge in media practice from several other short courses. 07030562600, hubitokoria@gmail.com

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