Covid-19: Again, Edo health workers protest non payment of allowances


FOR the second time in two weeks, personnel of the Edo state mobile screening team on Covid-19 yesterday staged a protest in Benin City over the state government’s refusal to pay their two months allowances.

The protesters blocked the entrance leading to the premises of the state Hospital Management Board thereby preventing movement in and out of the compound.    The screening team which comprised medical doctors, health personnel, contact tracers, data collectors among others, was initiated to trace people who have had contacts with COVID-19 patients, all in a bid to ramp up testing in the state.

The protesters said after working for two months, they received a message from the Incident Manager COVID-19 mobile screening exercise, disengaging them from their duties without due payment of monthly allowances.    Speaking on behalf of the ad-hoc staff, Ojei Emmanuel said they have been treated with a lack of pity and compassion.

He said “I come from a distance, I pay N600 on a daily basis for transport fare, and I have been doing that for 61 days.    “We just came in today to find out that we have been relieved of the job and we have not been paid for two months. We have 26 groups containing about eight persons per group. There are group leaders in each group; there are doctors.

“Though it was 31 days, we still agree to be paid 90,000 from the outset, not 93,000. So, why we are being owed, we don’t know, why we are being relieved of the job, we still also do not know; all we want is for them to pay what is due to us,” he added.   But the state government in a statement issued by Special Adviser to Governor Godwin Obaseki on Media and Communication Strategy, Crusoe Osagie said the frontline workers would be paid their outstanding allowance upon the conclusion of the vetting of their payroll.

He said the taskforce was demobilised after the state exceeded its target to screen and test over 500,000 and 5,000 persons respectfully.   He said “The screening exercise was massive and crosscutting. The officials were inundated with lists of persons, who were said to have participated in the exercise. So, we are carefully vetting the lists before making the final payment. The outstanding allowances would be paid before the end of the week,” he said.

According to him, “The task force for the screening exercise was set up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The government, upon the outbreak of the pandemic in the state, based its response on the data polled from an epidemiological study done in partnership with the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH). This led to the setting up of a taskforce to embark on a massive screening and testing of 500,000 and 5000 persons across the state. Vanguard

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