Protesters in front of Jaja Health Centre in University of Ibadan

Gbenro Adesina/Ibadan

It was a herculean task on Monday for visitors, patients and workers of the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, Oyo State to gain access into the hospital premises as security men and cleaners at the hospital embarked on an unscheduled strike.

The two main gates of the hospital were locked by the workers who were said to be protesting non-payment of their 11 months salary arrears by the hospital management.

Motorists along the Mokola-Gate route and Queen Elizabeth road linking the State Secretariat to Total Garden Junction and the two routes leading to the two gates of the hospital were trapped in a serious traffic jam for hours.

According to sources, as early as 7am, the routes to the hospital became impassable with hundreds of other road users, including workers heading to the state secretariat.

Patients who had early morning appointments were disappointed as they could not gain entrance into the hospital. At a point, pedestrians were allowed into the premises but vehicles were prevented from gaining entrance.

One of the protesters lamented the insensitivity of the hospital’s management. He accused the Chief Medical of the hospital, Prof Temitope Alonge of deliberately withholding the fund meant for their salaries, calling for Federal Government intervention.

She said: “We have endured for 11 months without salaries. Can the CMD endure a month without salary? But we are considered lowly in the ranking of staff of the hospital so our money can wait. We are vulnerable too because we hardly have any voice in the day-to-day running of the hospital.

”However, we are responsible for their security and hygiene. We open and lock the gates and clean the toilets and the wards. When they sleep at home, we look over the security of the hospital at night, daring the danger. But that is what we agreed to do when we applied so there is no problem with that. Our line of work is difficult but highly important to the hospital. We deserve better than what we get. We call on the Federal Government to prevail on the hospital management to have pity on us.”

Another protester also informed journalists that the hospital CMD had addressed the protesting workers explaining that their salaries were not paid directly by the hospital but through an agency which the Federal Government contracted the two departments to. He promised to pay one month salary to the workers from the hospital’s Internally Generated Revenue and that efforts would be made to ensure that the agency involved facilitate speedy payments of the money.