… Gudu Reopens
Paschal Eemka, Abuja
Environmental workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have on Thursday threatened to shut down all public cemeteries in Abuja.
This was after the Gudu cemetery was locked up on Wednesday, but the workers reopened the cemetery after pressure from both the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA) and the Presidency mounted.
The striking workers had two days ago demonstrated and subsequently embarked on an indefinite strike over the failure of the FCT Administration to implement a new salary structure for them.
Comrade Muktar Bala, the Chairman of the Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) in AEPB, said the unions agreed to reopen the cemeteries but will shut it down again, including all other operational systems of the board.
Bala, who expressed anger over the attitude of the administration towards the welfare of members of the union, noted that they have been exposed to several health hazards by handling the burial of abandoned corpses, yet the government doesn’t appreciate their efforts.
According to him, the reopening of the cemeteries was temporary, due to the agreement reached between the administration and its national body, but would be shut down again, should there be a failure on the side of the government.
He said: “As the chairman of one of the unions in AEPB, I can assure you that it is a collective decision by the whole Union, with backings from the National Union. People think it is only waste management that we do. They don’t know that even unclaimed corpses in hospitals are taken care of by us.
“These dead bodies that have overstayed in the hospital for three to four years, we take care of them, without knowing what killed them
“Hospitals come to us when they want mass burial for such dead bodies. If there are unclaimed or unknown corpses either on the roads or elsewhere, police will write reports and bring them to us for burial.
“All these hazards, people don’t look at it like we are doing anything. We want to tell the administration that apart from managing the solid wastes.
“Based on the decision taken yesterday night by the joint Unions of AEPB, we have agreed to open the cemetery by 9 a.m. Thursday due to calls from the presidency. However, if the agreement is not met, we will not only shut down the cemeteries, but also all our systems and operations.”