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Intels Women Empowerment Project Scheme Synergy (WEPSS), Onne, Rivers State. Thousands being trained and empowered at this complex will be out to the street if the agreement cancellation remains. Photo: Business Hilights

Anxiety as Intels sacks 300, may ease 1,700 before year end

Leading maritime logistics servicing group, Integrated Logistics Service Limited (INTELS), Nigeria’s foremost oil and gas logistics service provider may have sacked about 300 Nigerian workers and over 20 expatriates members of staff last month.

Before the latest mass sack, about 800 had earlier been eased off to the labour market within the Onne, Eleme and adjoining towns where some youths were engaged from.

Though our source linked the sack with the recession currently hitting the economy by way of reducing activities in shipping industry, efforts to get further details from some top officials yesterday failed.

Calls and sms sent to the Head of Community Relations at Intels, Mr. David Alagoa were not responded to yesterday evening.

Attempts to get Intels to comment on its ongoing restructuring were abortive as the company was said not to have appointed a spokesperson to replace Sambol as at the time of doing this report.

The company had opened talks with organised labour bodies under the aegis of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria and Nigeria Labour Congress to determine the mode and severance package to be paid to affected workers.

This is as the company is said to be preparing to lay off additional 1700 Nigerian and foreign workers in its employ before December 2016.

Investigation also linked the drop in business activities in Onne to militancy as most of the oil and gas concerns and oil servicing companies using the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone where its major operations are domiciled have stopped operations.

Also affected are workers in its Warri operations in Delta State and Calabar Ports in Cross Rivers State.

Isidore Sambol, a former spokesman for Intels who was affected by the September sack had told journalists in April that the company cannot afford to sustain a bloated workforce with lesser jobs to do and lean income to sustain their wage bill.

It was also gathered that the company has also been battling with the problem of lesser number of ships calling at its various facilities across the country. This development has created in a lull in Onne where the company is a major player and highest private sector employer of labour.

The labour body had indicated intention the resist the mass sack but went mute ostensibly after being convinced on the rationality of the downsizing move.

Another angle to the problem is that subsidiary companies under Intels are shutting down while retained workers are made to operate at its main outfit.

Prodeco Nigeria Limited, a construction company in the Ol and Gas Free Zone Onne closed down. Activities at Prodeco at at its lowest since its creation over 12 years ago.

The company only retained a few workers in the Prodeco store and security personnel to safeguard its properties.

Most offices and residential accommodation it constructed which used to host beehive of activities are now a shadow of itself.

West African Machinery Services (WAMS) another subsidiary of Intels which handles and maintains its machinery including cargo equipment recently ceased to operate.

Orleans West Africa Invest, another subsidiary of Intels which does most of the company’s interface with foreign partners and serves as a holding company is also facing serious drop in business activities.

One of the sacked staff who pleaded anonymity hinted that the group is making arrangement to bring in some Chinese investors that will help model its operations to look like some ports in the United Arab Emirates to attract more patronage and stimulate economic activities.

Sources are linking former Vice President Atiku Abubakar the owner of a substantial interest in the company in partnership with some Italian investors led by Simone Volpi.

Currently, Intels is managing three ports in the country on behalf of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). It has a 25-year concession with the NPA (starting from the year 2006) with an extension opportunity for another 25 years. It manages a four-kilometer stretch of jetties in Onne, with drafts ranging from eight meters to 14 meters.

The company got approval from government to invest approximately $500 million n Phase 4A of the Onne project. The group as part of its community relations management has invested over N30 million in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in the last 10 years.

The company is the most prominent player at the Onne Port which holds two terminals- the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT) and the Federal Lighter Terminal (FLT).

The total length of the quay around 1,670 meters is gradually idling away. The second, third and fourth berths have been deepened to an eight-meter draft but underutilized since delivery.

The decline in intels activities has impacted a chain effect on over 50 other companies within the Free Zone in Rivers State as some of the companies are closing shop. Its status as number one free zone in Africa may slip off should this trend stay sustained, watchers aver.

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