We were deceived, Taraba street sweepers cry out over underpaid allowances

The newly recruited street sweepers in Jalingo, the Taraba State capital have alleged that they were underpaid the monthly allowance the state government promised them.

After PREMIUM TIMES’ stories about the filth and unsightly environment around Jalingo, the new governor, Agbu Kefas, less than 72 hours after his inauguration, directed the coordinator of the State Sanitation Agency, Iliya Kefas, to immediately hire 600 youths and women to clean the city on a monthly allowance of N20,000.

On Thursday, the new sanitation workers told PREMIUM TIMES exclusively that they were paid N13,000 instead of the N20,000 earlier promised them by the sanitation agency.

Some of the workers, while speaking with our correspondent, said they have been reporting at their respective duty posts without pay since June. Surprisingly, last week, they were asked to report to the agency’s office and were paid N13,000 instead of the N20,000, without any explanation.

“We were deceived by the agency that the governor has approved and released N20,000 monthly allowances for the 600 workers that were recruited,” Deborah Daniel, one of the workers, who is a graduate, told PREMIUM TIMES.

She said they expected to be paid in the first week of July but were paid in the third week of July, and no explanation was given.

Ms Daniel said they tried to seek an explanation from the head of the sanitation agency, Mr Kefas, but they were ignored.

“He ignored us and shouted at us that if we are not satisfied, let’s leave, after all, many people are begging him for the job.

“We are not happy. There are many hazards in this work. We are begging the government to consider things considering the economic hardship,” she said.

“Recently, one of us was nearly knocked down by a vehicle around Roadblock, and I also learnt that a woman collapsed while on duty. That’s the risk in this job, yet our little welfare is not important to the agency.

“Are they doing this to us because we are poor and voiceless?” she asked.

Some of the sweepers lamented that because of the high expectations, some of them were buying food on credit from food vendors.

They also want the governor to caution the agency coordinator and reform the agency for effective delivery.

A staff of the agency, who begged for anonymity, confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that the street sweepers are being subjected to all forms of harassment by the coordinator.

He said he was in support of the calls by the workers to reform the agency.

When PREMIUM TIMES contacted, Mr Kefas, in a telephone conversation, said, “There is no agreement between the government or the agency with the cleaners. That this is the amount they will be paid.”

When PREMIUM TIMES asked him why he did not debunk earlier media reports concerning the issue of N20,000 that went viral, he said, “If they told you they were paid N13, 000 then go and write what they told you,” he said, ending the call angrily.

The Secretary to the State Government (SSG), Timothy Kataps, however, told PREMIUM TIMES that the workers were paid promised N15,000 and not N20,000 as is being speculated.

When asked why they were paid N13,000 instead of N15,000 as he claimed, he promised to make more findings and get back to this reporter, but he never did.

He did not answer several calls made to his number subsequently.

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