Metro & Crime

Chinese company abandoned, denied me treatment after accident, says worker

…with ruptured bladder

Thirty-one-year old Mr. Kingsley Micheal, is from Akwa Ibom State and has worked with Yongsine Steel Company, Benin City, Edo State for four years. He was a machine operator in the said company until the factory accident that ruptured his bladder, leaving him an invalid. Before his accident, his salary was N50,000, but after the accident, he was placed on a half salary.

In the past one year, Micheal has been living on water and liquid food, unable to eat solid food. He said: “I was a machine operator at the nail cutting department from January 19, 2016 to February 27, 2020, when I had the accident. The accident took place at 8: pm.

I was operating the machine that night when one of the supervisors told me that the machine was faulty. I tried to use binding wire to bind it, so that the machine could be used for operation that night. But the machine suddenly switched on by itself. The binding wire loosened and got my stomach, and I was flung to a distance.

It then slammed on the floor, where I passed out.” It was the following morning that Micheal found out what had happened to him. He remembered staring confusedly around, asking people around what had happened to him. His words: “It was when I became conscious and opened my eyes that I saw people around me.

I asked them what happened to me; they said I was involved in an accident. I was also told that immediately I was brought in, doctors immediately operated on me because I had sustained internal injury, which affected my bladder. I was at the University of Benin Teaching Hospital’s (UBTH) sickbed for 16 days without food or water. It was after 16 days that I began to learn how to walk properly and talk.” Micheal said that on the 20th day after his admission, he started drinking water. He explained that since February 2020, he had been taking tea with bread because he still couldn’t eat solid food.

“After I was discharged, the company said that they could no longer pay my medical bills. I was sent out of the dormitory where I live. The Chinese company said I should treat myself and rent an apartment, after that, they would reimburse me,” said Micheal.

He further narrated: “They said that they didn’t want me to get infected with COVID-19 at the UBTH, so I should use my money to look for a hospital to treat me. I went to a hospital, but because I didn’t have money the hospital refused to treat me.

I pleaded with them to treat me that I would pay them after my company pays me. The doctors asked me to go to UBTH, to get my medical report from the doctors that treated me there. When I went to UBTH, I was told that the company sent someone to collect my medical and doctor’s reports. When I went to the company, they refused to give me the report. I returned to the private hospital without the report. At the end of the day, I spent about N300,000 on treatment.” Micheal recalled that when he started getting better, he returned to the Chinese company. He said: “They promised to compensate me with N300, 000, with which to use to settle my hospital bills and house rent. They said that after another three months, they would find out if I could still work, if not, they would pay me off. They asked me how much I wanted to be given as compensation, I said N10Million.

They said they would give me N3 Million and I accepted, but till date, nobody had given me a dime. I wanted them to compensate me, so that I could go to my village to see my parents. This was because I had not set eyes on my parents for long. My parents didn’t even know that I was involved in an accident that almost took my life. When I resumed with the Chinese company in November, 2020,they collected my Identity card and issued me a new one. Whenever somebody asked about my case, they would say they had compensated me. The new identity card meant I was a new person with the company. The only thing they did was to give me N300,000 for my hospital bills.

They told me that when it was time for them to compensate me, they would remove the N300, 000 from the N3 Million, which they had promised to compensate me with, especially after the doctor said I shouldn’t work again.” He continued: “Since then, I have been on half salary. When the labour union people came, the company did not allow me into the company premises because they didn’t want them to know about my condition. I’m pleading with well-meaning Nigerians to help me prevail on the Chinese company to compensate me so that I can go and start my life afresh.”

The Public Relations Officer of the Youngsine Steel Company, Mr. Isaac Olufemi, reacting to Micheal’s allegations, explained: “Micheal was involved in an accident on the job during the COVID-19 lockdown. He was taken to the hospital, and by then, if you go out, you can’t come back into the company because of the COVID-19 Pandemic. Also, if you leave the company for any reason, and want to come back, you will get a new identity card number. The truth is that Micheal was paid off after the accident.

The paper he gave to you was signed by me, but they had altered the figure before it was given to you. They removed the figures in the paper. You may say that N300,000 was not enough as compensation, but he has been compensated. The company did not agree to pay him N3 Million. I was there and I spoke on his behalf.”

 

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