The blowing up of gas pipelines by the Niger Delta terrorists is negatively affecting the nation’s economy, especially the manufacturing sector.
This was the position of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and a cross section of managers in Lafarge Holcim during an inspection tour of Lafarge Ewekoro Plant by SON.
The acting director-general of SON, Paul Angya, confirmed that the challenges faced by investors are the major factors responsible for high cost of production and expensive costs of Nigerian products, making them non-competitive.
He said, “Clearly, that is a major national challenge, the issue of gas supply and activities of the militants in the Niger Delta with the supply of gas nation-wide. It has of course, hampered the capacity of industries to produce.
“Also, with the downturn of economy, reduction in the inflow of forex because of oil prices, Nigeria has also faced challenge of amount of foreign exchange available to industries. These are problems government is tackling frontally; government is over driven to reverse these negative trends.
“Last week, we were in Lagos with captains of industries and entire industry stakeholders, looking at the challenges, and ways of ameliorating situation and the situation is not exemption. Government is engaging the militants, trying to find solutions and I think within the shortest possible time, the challenges will be a a thing of the past.”
Two Lafarge personnel, Segun Shoyoye and Hannes Diedericks, managers of Ewekoro Cement Plants I and II respectively, lamented loss of working hours and underutilization of resources being experienced in manufacturing industries as a result of non-availability of gas.
Shoyoye, who jointly spoke with Hannes Diedericks, Ewekoro Cement Plant II on the challenges facing the multinational cement company bordering on lack of gas supply and foreign exchange, appealed to government to help investors fight all challenges that affect manufacturing industries in order to remain in business.
He said, “We can say we have some challenges, but the major issue is lack of gas supply because of oil and gas pipelines in the Niger Delta. Today, because of what we have talked about, we are using a mixture of gas and black oil for our operations which is highly costly, and also downrates our production from 100% to 75% in Ewekoro plants. This has been on since February.
“During the month of May, we had to stop production in Sagamu plant for 6 weeks. Before then, we had been producing 3,000 tons per day, but now, we are doing about 1,000 per day because of fuel issue. But, I want to say that we will soon get over it because of our investment in alternative source of energy in our plants.
Speaking on quality assurance and control in the manufacturing industries in the country, the Acting Director-General said, “I can tell you that the local manufacturers are over 70% compliant to standard requirements, although, we have issue with competition, perhaps they are not able to compete in terms of price because of cost of production, but in terms of quality products, I score local manufacturers over 70%.”