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Indeni employees left fuming after Energy Minister fails to give specific details of their retrenchment

Workers at Indeni Petroleum Refinery Plant in Ndola were on Tuesday left fuming after Energy Minister Peter Kapala failed to state a specific period in which the firm will be restructured after the Government placed it on care and maintenance late last year.

All workers at Indeni who include 327 permanent ones will be declared redundant and asked to reapply when the petroleum firm is restructured by the Government with the aim of making it more viable.

Mr. Kapala, who was accompanied by Finance Minister Dr. Situmbeko Musokotwane, Information Minister Chushi Kasanda and Copperbelt Minister Elisha Matambo, on Tuesday, addressed Indeni workers at the plant to officially inform them over the planned restructuring.

During the question and answer session of the meeting, Indeni workers continuously interjected Mr. Kapala when he said it is not possible to predict how long the transition of Indeni will last.

“We want to know what is going to happen to us during the transition period because we know that Indeni has no money at the moment. We also want to know when the transformation process will end. We are anxious as Indeni workers,” one employee said.

“They have come all the way from Lusaka with this huge delegation to come and tell us nothing. We are actually more confused than before because the ministers have not said anything new regarding Indeni. The other issue is that when they declare the 327 permanent workers redundant, how many from the 327 will be retained under the new structure,” a worker was heard passing comments after the meeting.

In his remarks, Mr. Kapala confirmed that at Indeni workers who include 327 permanent ones will be declared redundant and asked to reapply when the firm is restructured.

He said under the proposed new structure Indeni will stop petroleum refinery business and start operating like an oil marketing company.

Mr. Kapala said the Government has come up with a plan of making Indeni Petroleum Refinery in Ndola more viable after placing it on care and maintenance.

The Energy Minister said the transformation of Indeni will start with the appointment of a new board in the next two weeks.

“Our mission is to come and formally propose what the Government wants to do with Indeni as a way forward. Also come to learn from Indeni if they can get some tangible proposals to make Indeni viable once again. The Government’s position is that Indeni will take a difference mode from what it is,” Mr. Kapala said.

“I have been accompanied by the Minister of Finance because there is this issue of redundancy money; whether people will be paid off immediately or whether people will stay on and things like that. Because it will be a new mode so people will be.. I don’t want to use the word declared redundant, there will be a transition from where they are to what we are going to do and this should happen quite soon so people should not be very concerned that the Government is not taking their interest. We are very much concerned that’s why we came and I hope today’s visit will iron out all the doubts that are hanging over Indeni,” he said.

Finance Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane says the Government will pay all the 327 workers at Indeni Petroleum Refinery in Ndola when they are declared redundant.

Dr. Musokotwane said money is available to give Indeni workers during the transition period as the Government transforms the refinery into a more viable entity.

The Finance Minister assured Indeni workers that no one will be sent home without pay.

“We will settle all the financial obligations to you before we change to the new institute so you will be paid. No one is going to be pushed on the street without any payment that does not arise. The rest are technical issues which the Ministry of Energy and the management will work out. I have come to give you an assurance with my own mouth that you will be paid,” Dr Musokotwane said.

Mr. Matambo said he is hopeful that the visit by the three ministers will resolve the uncertainty surrounding Indeni Petroleum Refinery which has not been operational since August, 2021.

“If we see Honourable Ministers coming to the Copperbelt we know that issues which are hanging will be sorted out,” Mr. Matambo said.

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