13 September, 2011, Sweetcrude, WARRI- AS the fortunes of the Delta Steel Company, DSC, Ovwian-Aladja in the Udu council area of Delta state continues to dwindle, the Chairman Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE), Senator Ahmed Lawan, has said that the Senate will take a final position on the sale of the near comatose company, even as it appeals to both staff and management for continued dialoguing.
The Senate Ad-Hoc Committee on Bureau for Public Enterprise (BPE) was at the Delta Steel Company weekend to meet with the Management and staff including members of host community to ascertain clams and counter-claims by various parties on the acquisition of the steel company by Global Infrastructures Nigeria Limited (GINL)
At the end of the tour of the comprehensive steel plant, Senator Lawan said from the assessment, there is more to be done about the deplorable state of DSC noting that they would have expected more from GINL having managed the steel firm close to six years.
Sen. Lawan said that the senate ad hoc committee would monitor operations of the steel firm until it concludes its investigation, noting that once the committee concludes its investigations, it would submit its report.
According to him, “There is a lot of work to be done here (DSC). Global Infrastructure, having being here for five and half years, we expect to see more improvement than we witness here. Of course they have their own explanations of challenges but I think the federal government in the first place decided to privatize DSC for improving the performance of the company. If at the end of the day, privatization doesn’t translate to improvement in the performance of the company, then it means we have some challenges to overcome”.
“Secondly, we feel there should better relationship between management and workers here. It’s absolutely necessary that there should be dialogue always, so that issues are resolved amicably for the benefit of everyone and the company”.
“We have listened to the management of DSC, we have listened to the presentation by the community leaders, pensioners, workers and their dismissed colleagues. We have also arrived here to verified calms and counter clams we had during the public hearing so we would go back and put together all that we have heard and analyze them and maybe arrangement at sometime but in the movement, I don’t know what it would be.
The Group Managing Director of the Company, Engr. Samuel Nwabuokei, said that the process of transaction leading to the purchase and subsequent acquisition of DSC by GINL meets international standard and best practices in privatization of public enterprises all over the world.
He said that the steel firm which was rehabilitated by GINL after ten years of its comatose state is currently producing at about 30% installed capacity saying that the plant would have been operating at 100% of installed liquid steel capacity by now if the concession agreement for National Iron Ore Mining Company (NIOMCO), Itakpe was not withdrawn.
Nwabuokei said that DSC major challenges are lack of support from NIOMCO, Itakpe, plus the Federal Government’s delay in dredging the Warri/Escravos River to allow for deep ocean vessels to bring in iron ore into the Warri Port from Brazil, Mexico and Venezuela as well as the current high electricity tariff are impeding the full operation of the company.
He further said that some other issues impeding the steel firm is the dredging of the Escravos bar to Warri River, completion of rail line from Agbahro to Warri, as well as gas and energy taffif for DSC, grant of minimum import duty and tax concession among others.
Meanwhile thousand of workers of the steel firm and community people staged anti-management protest before the Senate Ad Hoc Commission on the Bureau of Public Enterprises.
Some of the placard bored the inscription; “ Help save our plants, Indians must go”, This is Indian slavery yard”, All staff pension funds, contributions are not been remitted, six years of casualization, no condition of service, non-payment of salaries Indians are enslaving Nigerians in DSC among others.
Leading the protesting workers, Isaac Omasheye numerated their grievance to include the inability of the steel firm to pay workers salaries in two quarters of 2009, November to December 2009 incentives, as well as failure to implement the reviewed condition of service since 2009.