Officials of the Oyo State Fire Service are set to embark on an indefinite strike over what they described as ‘miserable’ N50 hazard allowance and incessant attacks by members of the public during rescue operations in the state.
The PUNCH reports that the state firefighters have been subjected to harassment, brutalisation and attacks several times by members of the public during rescue operations.
Investigations by our correspondent, on Thursday, revealed that the firefighters had vowed not to respond to any emergency or distress call anymore until the government attends to their plights, especially in the area of welfare and hazard allowance.
It was further gathered that they have been grumbling since Tuesday after traders and residents of Akingbola on Ashi-Bodija Road in the Ibadan North Local Government Area of the state inflicted serious injuries on them during an operation.
A member of the team, who did not want his name in print, told The PUNCH, “We received a distress call and we moved in immediately. But the water got finished halfway, and as we were trying to move out to replenish it, the traders and residents in the area descended on us. We were beaten to a stupor.
“Some injured ones among us were treated and discharged that day but one of our men, who was rushed to a specialist hospital due to the magnitude of injury he sustained, was later referred to an orthopedic specialist hospital in Awotan.
“As we speak, he has now been referred again to Ladoke Akintola Teaching Hospital, Ogbomoso.”
A senior staff member, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said, “There is a serious tension in the state Fire Service. Could you believe that the hazard allowance is just N50? These guys will risk their lives to climb a storey building to rescue humans, and secure property from being burnt, and at the end of the day, you harass and beat them up because the water got finished during the operation.
“Does that make any sense? Are we not humans like every other person? We endanger our lives because of others. Look at that hazard allowance, just N50! Miserable N50! And members of the public will also harass us when we are making frantic efforts to put out the fire, I think it’s uncalled for.
“Our offices are not in good condition. The state Governor, Seyi Makinde, promised during one of his live programmes at a popular radio station in Ibadan recently that he would add hazard allowances to the 2023 Budget and till now nothing has been done. The victim of Tuesday’s fire incident at Akingbola, Bodija-Ashi, is still in the hospital because the leg was broken.”
When contacted, the General Manager of the state Fire Service, Yemi Akinyinka, who reluctantly responded to the imminent strike, said, “Anyway, I’m not aware of any strike, but what I know is that efforts are already in top gear by the state government to address all their plights.”
Akinyinka, therefore, declined further comments.