by Mayowa Aboah
The Federal Government has said that Nigeria now has an installed capacity of 39.5 million metric tons for the production of cement.
Speaking on Tuesday at the Line II Ground-Breaking ceremony of the United Cement Company of Nigeria (UNICEM) Cement Factory in Cross River State, Vice President Namadi Sambo, noted that the Backward Integration Policy in the cement industry was initiated by the Federal Government in 2002 to meet self sufficiency in cement production.
The President described the manufacturing industry as the backbone of the country’s growth.
On the issue of challenges being faced by industries in Cross River State, the president stated that the 550mw Calabar Power plant would soon be commissioned. He also added that construction work would soon commence on the rail line leading to Calabar up to Obudu Ranch, while also the dredging of the Calabar River as well as the construction of a deep sea port at Ibaka among other infrastructural development were on top gear.
He therefore enjoined cooperation among all stakeholders as this was necessary for progress, saying “Government will continue to cooperate with the relevant agencies both public and private to champion meaningful projects and ensure steady progress in our communities.”
President Jonathan while commending the management of UNICEM for keying into the Transformation Agenda, stressed the need to carry along the communities in the area of its operations, saying “improving the lives of the people in these communities remains your greatest’ business asset.”
Speaking to the communities within UNICEM’s operation area the President also urged them to cooperate with the company,
In his remarks the Governor of Cross River State, represented by his Deputy, Barrister Efiok Cobham, said the state government would continue to provide the enabling environment for businesses to thrive. He commended the President for his people friendly polices that had made the state a hub of industrialization. He added that the increased capacity would not only reduce the supply gap but would also reduce the market price of cement in the State.
Earlier the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, speaking through the Minister of State, Samuel Ortom, said the performance of the cement industry was a testimony that Nigeria was moving in the right direction in achieving her Industrial Revolution plan.
The Chairman of UNICEM board, John Coumantaros, said the new line which would cost the company N84 billion would be completed in 2016 and would increase the capacity of the company from the current 2.5 million metric tons to 5 million metric tons, adding that when it comes on stream it would also provide jobs both directly and indirectly. He urged government to tackle multiple taxation, provide the necessary infrastructure in the power, and transport sectors, especially roads, water and rail.