According to reports, despite absence of external infrastructures such as access roads, railway and poor Power supply have been identified as factors militating against the commissioning of Ajaokuta Steel Company.
The $1.2 billion steel company which is 98 per cent complete has not been commissioned for use. The plant, when fully operational, can provide 75,000 direct jobs as well as more than 1 million indirect jobs.
The sole Administrator of the facility, Engineer Isah Onobere told members of the committee on the revitalisation of Ajaokuta steel company set up by the Kogi state Governor, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, visited the plant at the weekend that the plant is suffering from poor infrastructure to effectively service it, thus preventing it from being commissioned and put to use.
“In fact, the non-completion of the external infrastructure alone is what has substantially accounted for Ajaokuta Steel Plant not being commissioned till date having reached 98 per cent completion as of 1994,” Eng. Onobere said.
The sole Administrator said that those who say Ajaokuta Steel plant is too expensive and quoting all manner of figures, comparing it to Chinese or European plants, forgot to realise that those plants were constructed in built up and developed townships with entire required infrastructure already in place.
“They will never tell you that Ajaokuta Steel Plant was built in a greenfield area (in a forest area with no single infrastructure)and therefore, the cost incurred on the project is not on the steel plant alone,” he added.
According to him,the associated external infrastructural development impacts positively on the national economy, their benefits being not limited to the steel project alone.
The sole administrator listed Okene-Ajaokuta-Itobe dual Carriage Way, The Natural Gas Line from the Niger Delta which has now engendered the development of a cluster of power plant in Ajaokuta, the rail lines, airstrip, roads, Ajaokuta port, 26 housing estates as some of the projects that will benefit not only the Steel plant but also the national economy.
Earlier, the leader of the visiting committee Brig. Gen. M D Yusuf had lamented that in spite of the several billions of Naira that has been sunk into the project, it has so far failed to meet the aspiration of Nigerians in terms of the much needed employment generation.
According to him, “whether it is international conspiracy, or national corruption or what have you, the country has reached a stage in the history of our country that something need to be done in the interest of this country at our time and for posterity”.
Yusuf said that the current global downturn in the price of oil that had resulted in unprecedented economic crisis in the country has made it very necessary for every Nigerian to look inward.
“Our country needs to diversify its sources of revenue generation now and explore areas like mining and steel production in order to be sufficient and even export to lessen the burden on the foreign exchange which has put pressure on the value of the Naira,” he said.