Scores of Ondo State Emergency Medical Services Agency (ODEMSA) workers took to the streets yesterday in Akure to protest against non-payment of 12 months salaries by the government.
The workers besieged the Governor’s Office at Alagbaka, Akure, brandishing different placards and chanting songs of protest to register their grievance and government’s indifference to their plight.
The agency was established on March 24, 2010 to provide emergency medical pre-hospital (ambulance) and hospital (trauma care) and road services, along crash-prone highway corridors in the state to salvage the lives of accident victims.
The protesters, led by Mr. Samuel Aderoju, defied the drizzling rain and inclement sun that followed, chanting “Pay our 12 months salary,” “Rescue us to rescue others on the roads,” “Hunger is killing us.” Others include “Save our roads from death,” “Give our lives priority, rescue our families;” “Our job is a life-saving job.”
Aderoju said the workers had held several meetings and made appeals to the state government but to no avail, revealing that the last dialogue with government officials in March went fruitless like the previous ones.
“They told us that they would pay and later resorted to verification to know if there were ghost workers among us, yet no positive result.”He added that all efforts to meet Governor Oluwarotimi Akeredolu had hit the rock, “so we have come here to embark on civic and peaceful protest to get the governor’s attention ourselves since we were prevented from seeing him.”
Aside non-payment of salaries, the protesters also condemned the non-implementation of their permanency, especially workers in the Vehicle Extrication and Call Centre units whose letters they claimed had been approved by the past administration.
“The permanency has been approved by the immediate past administration but the present government refuses to implement it and also fails to make money available for us to carry out our operations effectively.”
There are five bases situated along Oka-Akoko, Owo, Ilara-Mokin, Bolorunduro and Ore with 40 call centre agents and 80 extrication staff. There are other units like the paramedics, driving and data processing.
Several attempts to speak with government officials who had dialogued with the workers earlier, the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Wahab Adegbenro and the Secretary to the State Government, Ifedayo Abegunde, failed as they didn’t respond to calls.