With the neck breaking record of unemployment ravaging our country and showing no signs of reducing, foreign investors have been given leeway to invest in various aspects of the economy, mostly with unlimited access to the nation`s resources. This, however, appears to be gradually becoming Nigeria’s undoing as it is potent enough to plunge the country back into the era of the colonial masters if their activities are not monitored to the minutest detail.
Information made available to SecretReporters reveals that Chinese investors popularly called “Ndi Chinko” in Nsukka Enugu State who has been in operations for about four months, are fast becoming the modern Nigerian colonial masters as they are alleged to not only subjecting their workers to heinous working conditions which contravene every known labour law in the land but also causing massive environmental degradation with their unchecked tree felling activities.
It was gathered that the Chinese investors who specialize in Charcoal production, are alleged to have practically turned the once flourishing green vegetation which the area is known for into a desert as sources reveal that trees which are the natural resources they use in the production of charcoal are being fell with tractors and earthmoving machines at an alarming rate and burnt both day and night thereby causing constant air pollution in the area.
More information reveals that as with the characteristics of colonial masters, the Chinese colonialist in the guise of providing employment for the youths; subject them to unlawful and unhealthy working conditions as they are constantly exposed to heat and soot from hot ovens without any safety equipment provided.
SecretReporters also learnt that the male workers are made to construct ovens using bricks after which logs of a special specie of wood popularly called “Okopi” in some Igbo dialects common in Enugu State, hewed from the area and smoothened are loaded into it and then subjected to very high temperatures before it can become charcoal. However, as normal as this may seem, these male workers are made to pull out these red-hot logs from the oven without any safety material as the work day in day out in hazardous conditions without any form of health insurance.
“Chinko no care oo. If fire touches you, you’re on your own o. No be you find work come?” a worker told our source. More so, as hectic and risky as this job looks, our source revealed that these male workers are only given a paltry N2000 per day for their travails.
Shockingly, this inhumane treatment is not peculiar to the male workers only as the female workers are divided into a group of 4 each and made to break the logged charcoal into sizeable pieces both day and night in order to meet up a target of loading fifty (50) cartons with the cooled charcoal for a paltry N1000 each day with a target of at least 12 cartons per individual.
More shocking is the fact that despite the environmental hazards like the heavy smoke from the charcoals and the high deforestation of the green life caused by these Chinese capitalists who package these charcoal in large quantity for export purposes, they are still alleged to operate like the erstwhile “Colonial masters” as they give no form of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to their host community.
There are fears amongst indigenes, residents in the area and the state that if the excesses of these Chinese investors are not curbed by the relevant authorities, they may end up becoming modern colonial masters who will leave the area polluted and deforested after they are long gone.