N1BN ABUJA WASTE DISPOSAL BINS: FG GOT IT WRONG â€“ MANUFACTURERS
Did the Federal Government flout its own rule or betray policy inconsistency, when it decided to import 600,000 units of plastic containers for disposing refuse within the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) at the cost of N927,600,000, without looking inwards? Did government actually contact local plastic producers prior to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting of Wednesday, September 22, where the award of the contract was announced?
And is it actually true that waste disposal units cannot be made in Nigeria by the local plastics industry?
These are some of the questions raging in the plastics sub-sector since the news of the award of the contract was broken by the Information Minister, Prof Dora Akunyili, who told journalists, after the meeting presided over by Vice President Namadi Sambo in Abuja, that the supplier, Pentagon Group of Companies, had been given a period of 12 weeks to deliver the products, which are believed to be coming from either Germany or Britain.
However, government's resort to importation has since drawn the ire of stakeholders in the plastics industry, who are particularly 'embarrassed by the claim' by Akunyili, that the local manufacturers were challenged to take the responsibility of making the plastic containers, but were found wanton.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily Sun, the sectoral chairman of the Domestic and Industrial Group of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN), Dr David V. C. Obi, said the news of the impending importation of the plastic bins 'came to all reasonable Nigerians as a rude shock and a bad 50th Independence Anniversary gift.'
Also reacting, a Lebanese who owns a plastics company, and Chief Innocent Chukwuma, Chairman, Innoson Group of Companies, which has one of the largest plastics plants in Nigeria, decried the contract, arguing that it will impact negatively on the enhancement of industrialization and job creation.
Obi, who himself established a plastics factory in Emene, Enugu, DVC Plastics Limited, some years ago, however, confirmed that much as his group which is also known as Association of Plastics Producers in Nigeria (APMIN) will not go as far as taking anybody to court, it would challenge 'the retrogressive action' by formally protesting to the government after its meeting scheduled for Wednesday, October 13, at MAN secretariat in Ikeja, Lagos.
He said it is contradictory that at a time the country is driving towards being an economic giant by the year 2020, its leaders are engaging the reverse gear by taking patronage abroad. According to him, by the action of government, Nigeria has lost opportunity to give boost to its plastics industry and create jobs for the unemployed.