The National Association of Nigerian Railway Senior Citizens has urged the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) management to implement the Federal Government housing policy in order not to render retirees homeless.

Mr Michael Abogoye, the National Chairman of the association, made the call at a news conference in Lagos on Thursday following threats by the NRC management to evict the people and demolish their houses.

According to Abogoye, about 6,000 retirees and staff still occupying the NRC quarters across the country are daily being harassed and intimidated by the management to vacate the premises in spite of court judgment.

He explained that the workers, including those who had retired were supposed to own the houses based on the Federal Government monetisation policy initiated in June 2004 which became effective on July 1, 2005.

“The Federal Government initiated the policy to relieve itself from the responsibility and burden of providing houses for its employees and the huge cost of maintaining these houses.

“Also, to assist civil servants and public office holders occupying government quarters to own their own houses thus, provide them with shelter on retirement.

But the NRC management chose to implement only the aspect of the monetisation policy that consolidates salary structure and foreclosed further payments of furniture allowance, meal subsidy, leave grant, motor vehicle and housing loans.

“It deliberately left out the monetisation of staff quarters to the railway workers contrary to the Federal Government’s extant monetisation policy,’’ he said.

The chairman said that after several meetings, entreaties and appeals to the NRC management over the issue which did not yield result, the Senior Staff Association and the Nigerian Union of Railway workers, took the matter to the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NIC) in 2011.

“The case lingered for five years until Jan.6, 2016 when the court gave a verdict in favour of the NRC staff.

“The NRC management appealed against the NIC judgment in a suite No. 7502016 of 2016,’’ he explained.

Abogoye said it was regrettable that in Kano, many railway staff had been forcefully evicted from their quarters, their houses demolished and the land sold to money bags.

“The quarters of 300 staff were clandestinely taken away in Kano with the promise to provide alternative houses. Till date, the alternative accommodation is yet to be provided. Their quarters have been demolished and the land sold to third parties.

“Similarly, our members who were evicted and their houses demolished at Ebute Metta, Lagos, three years ago are yet to be allocated the house built for them, notwithstanding that the houses have been ready for over one year.

Our cry and this fresh appeal is because of the recent invasion of our members’ quarters at Kano Railway Compound, with a fresh threat to forcefully evict them from their quarters unless they accept five million each which is surreptitiously being offered to them,’’ he said.

The chairman advised the NRC management to wait for the decision of the appellate court and desist from interfering with the staff quarters and their accessories forthwith pending determination of the suit at the Court of Appeal.

He further said that the corporation should allocate the already built houses in respective districts to those forcefully evicted and for whom the houses have been built, as Nigerian Railway Corporation and Federal Ministry Of Transport had undertaken..

He urged that the organisation to stop the constant threat and  current plan to forcefully evict the immediate families of deceased members who died during the course of this struggle.

However, when contacted, the NRC Deputy Director, Public Relations, Mr Yakub Mahmood, told the News Agency of Nigeria that the management had no comment on the issue.

Source : NNN