Environmental workers in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) have threatened to shut down all public cemeteries in Abuja.
The workers, who locked up Gudu cemetery in the nation’s capital, succumbed to pressure from the Presidency, and opened the facility on Thursday morning.
The angry workers attributed their action to the failure of FCT Administration to implement a new salary structure for them.
Comrade Muktar Bala, Chairman of Amalgamated Union of Public Corporation, Civil Service Technical and Recreational Services Employees (AUPCTRE) in AEPB, said although the union has agreed to reopen some cemeteries, it would shut down all if their demands are not met.
Bala, who expressed worry over the attitude of the Administration towards the welfare of members of the union, said they had been exposed to several health hazards while handling abandoned corpses.
“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 over stayed in the hospital for 3 to 4 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 that we are doing anything. We want to tell the administration that apart from managing the Solid waste, we do other things.
“Based on the decision taken yesterday night by the joint Unions of AEPB, we agreed to open the cemetery by 9am Thursday due to calls from the Presidency . However, if the agreement is not met, we will not only shut down the Cemeteries, but all our systems and operations.”