Nigerian Workers Shut Power Plant Handed to Sepco

Nigerian workers have shut down the Olorunshogo Power Plant to protest a government decision to hand it over to SepcoIII Electric Power Construction Corp. of China, a labor union leader said.

The workers closed down the plant two days ago on concern the agreement may lead to job losses, Joe Ajaero, general secretary of the National Union of Electricity Employees, said today by phone from Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital. The government ceded the power plant to SepcoIII, on Feb. 15.

“On the day the government handed over the power plant to the Chinese, they barred workers from entering some sections, so by the next day, the workers decided to equally lock out the Chinese,” Ajaero said.

Africa’s most populous nation and top oil producer plans to sell six state-owned transmission and 11 thermal-generation companies by July, Minister of State for Power Nuhu Wya said in November. Power cuts occur daily in Nigeria, where demand for electricity is almost double the current supply of more than 3,000 megawatts. The government wants to increase output to 14,019 megawatts by 2013.

Electricity workers oppose the plan, saying that private and public industries should be allowed to compete. They also say that selling off state power assets will lead to job losses.

Labor unrest may spread unless the government and companies reach agreements with workers on job security before changing ownership of power plants, Ajaero said.

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