Despite some challenges it is facing of the revitalization of the multi-billion Naira Ajaokuta steel project, the Federal Government on Friday said that ongoing reactivation of the project would be completed within the next two years.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, set this timely for the re-opening of the moribund plant during a tour of the steel complex and commended the employees for ensuring continued maintenance of the facilities.
He disclosed further that though the facility’s workshops are functioning, government’s target was to ensure that when fully upgraded and re-opened, the plant would be producing high quality steel for both domestic and the international markets.
To achieve this, the minister said that the Federal Government would be collaborating with the African Export-Import (Afrexim) Bank and the Russia Export Centre (REC) to ensure that the rehabilitated steel plant will kick off with full capacity operations.
The minister said: “The plants are there and some of them are fully functional, the only reason Ajaokuta is still here, is because the staff are being paid salaries over the years. They have not only ensured that the plants are here, they ensured their maintenance and functionality.”
It would be recalled that in the 2020 proposed budget, government had provided N3.796 billion for the rehabilitation of the plant, relaying on the REC to get the complex running optimally.
An agreement to revive the project was signed President Muhammadu Buhari and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Russia at a meeting just last month. The partnership is expected to help get sections of the factory to begin full production before the end of 2019.
The General Manager, Engineering Works and Services Department of the Steel Plant, Engr. Suru Babajide, who conducted the minister and his team round the facility, said the complex had heavy duty machines that could produce any kind of metal material for Nigeria’s infrastructure needs and exports.