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The Federal Government has concluded the process of giving employment to about 20,000 casual workers of Power Holding Companies of Nigeria (PHCN), thus raising hope for preparation and payment of severance benefits to workers in the power sector.

The accurate computation and payment of the benefits are also preconditions for the successful handover of the 15 Electricity Generation Companies (GENCOs) and Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) to preferred bidders.

Investigations showed that while many got their letters from the PHCN after the clearance of the Ministry of Power, the last set of about 3,000 workers who had some issues were cleared by the government technical committee last week

A member of the committee, who preferred not to be named, said: “We reviewed many cases before approving that about 3,000 more casual workers be given their letters of employment.

“The completion of the process and information generated will enhance the work of the technical committee that is saddled with many responsibilities, especially verification and computing of accurate benefits to be paid to workers before the handover of the GENCOs and DISCOs to private investors.”

The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) National President, who is also a member of committee, Mr. Mansur Musa, said: “This is good as it will enable the committee to complete its assignment. The committee has been working. The formal engagement letters have provided additional facts and figures, especially date of employment, name, level, age and wages required to compute their entitlements for settlement before the handover of the companies.”

President of the Senior Staff Association of Electricity and Allied Companies, Mr. Bede Okpara, said: “The technical committee that reviewed the others with major and minor issues last Saturday cleared more people for the issuance of letters.”

Okpara said on completion of its work, the technical committee would hand over to the implementation committee that was put in place to execute the various aspects of the findings, including ensuring that payment is made to workers.

He said there were indications that some workers may be paid N384 billion severance benefits as soon as the Minister of Power, Prof. Chinedu Nebo, announced in Lagos a few days ago that the workers would be paid on June 17, 2013.

The minister, who raised hope for payment, told workers of Egbin power plant last week that: “For several months, the technical and implementation committee on payment of severance benefits has been meeting on the issue and we thought by now we would have gone far with the payment

Nebo said: “Your leadership has signed documents and no one is going to give the workers less than what is stipulated in the condition of service. Very soon, the money will start hitting your accounts.”

He advised workers who may be retained to serve the preferred bidders in different capacities to continue to do their best for the development of the nation’s electricity sector.

The bidders included Amperion Power Distribution Company Limited which emerged winner with a bid of $132,000,000 as the preferred bidder for the core investor of 51 per cent shares of Geregu Power Plc; Mainstream Energy Solutions Limited, which offered an annual fee of $50,760,665.18 and a commencement fee of $257,000,000 as the preferred bidder for the concession of Kainji Hydro Power Plc.

 

Information from National Mirror was used in this report.

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