Egypt’s Orascom Group, handling construction work at the proposed US$350m Nigerian United Cement Company (UNICEM), cement production plant in Mfamosing, Cross River State, has closed down, following violent clashes which left one of the workers dead. The problem started barely a week ago, when one of its heavy duty trucks conveying another earth-moving equipment to site caused the collapse of the 42-year old bridge, obstructing vehicular movements. The road is the closest link between Nigeria and Cameroon through Calabar.
Workers embarked on a peaceful protest last weekend, over plot by management to slash their salaries from N21,000 to N17,000 each. The peaceful protest was not the cause of the fracas which led to the closure, but the killing of one of the workers by mobile policemen drafted to maintain peace, Olumba Ikoh Nkanu, who works with DECL, a sub-contractor with Orascom. Angered by the killing, his colleagues became violent and attacked whoever was on site, including expatriates and other management staff, while about two vehicles were set ablaze.
According to an Orascom statement signed by its Managing Director, Mr Brian Sears, "this is to inform the general public and particularly all employees of Orascom Construction Industries Nigeria Limited, and DECL - Orascom Joint Venture, that the companies site at Mfamosing, Akamkpa, has been closed down. "Management regrets any inconveniencies the closure might cause the business community and all other members of the public."