Emergency responders attached to the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency have cried out over illegal pay cut, harsh working conditions, as well as four months of unpaid salaries.

A source at the agency told SaharaReporters that despite taking a pay cut, more than 50 emergency responders had been sacked since AVANT-GARDE Management Services (AMS) took over the management and operations of the call centre.

The shortage of staff, the source said, has led to the delay in response when a call is placed to the 112/767 emergency line because “most times, only 3 and 5 call centre agents will be at work as against the 50 agents per shift planned by Lagos state government.”

The Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) was established by the LASEMA Law 16 of 2008 for emergency and disaster management in the state in pursuance to decree 12 of 1999 as amended by Act No. 50 of 1999 which established the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA).

The source told SaharaReporters that on January 16, 2019, AMS wrote a memo stating that “all member staff must take a 15% pay cut. The memo said that this would allow AMS to pay the staff salary hence the salary deduction. This, however, turned to be false.

The source said, “Equipment operators now sleep in the office because they work from 8 am-8 pm daily without break hours or public holiday. Staff HMO was stopped long ago. The last time staff pension was paid was July 2018.

“The state of most equipment is in comatose. What is the fate of the project? Who will address about 400 staff who are scared to lose their jobs if they speak? How will hungry people attend to distress calls?

And how many lives will be lost if emergency operations are grounded?"

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