The Nigeria Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) says it will ensure that the poloicy of allocation of 60 per cent of jobs in Free Trade Zones to host communities is fully implemented. Acting Managing Director of NEPZA, Mr Bitrus Dawuk, gave this assurance in a statement on Tuesday in Abuja while reacting to arecent labour crisis at Ogun-Guandong Free Zone, Igbesa, Ogun State.
Dawuk said that the industrial dispute between the workers and management of Goodwin Ceramic Free Zone Enterprise (FZE) located in the Zone, was necessitated by lockdown extension by the government to curtail spread of coronavirus pandemic. He said it prompted several workers of the enterprise mostly from the North-East to demand for additional payment to stay or vacate the Zone.
He said the workers ignored appeals by the zone’s management and security agencies that the workers should stay in order not to expose themselves to the pandemic and the financial payment provided for them to cater for their needs. Dawuk expressed delight that the labour crisis has been resolved despite wrong accounts from some media.
He noted that it was during the incident that NEPZA discovered that its policy on 60 per cent recruitment of people from the catchment area was not fully enforced by the Free Zone Enterprise. “Until this dispute, it was not obvious that more than 80 per cent of the workers of the Enterprise of Ogun-Guandong Free Zone were not from the catchment area.
“The current Resident Zone Administrator said he inherited the problem when he assumed duty in December 2019 after the retirement of the immediate past Resident Zone Administrator. “The Authority is already putting a mechanism and template in place to redress the situation.
“This will ensure that youth within the location of any zone in 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 said.
According to the enterprise representative, Daniel Chen, its decision to engage workers from other part of the country is because the indigenes of the host community are either not willing to take up available jobs or not committed to do it.