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No Asset Stripping in ALSCON - BPE Boss

Author: john on 16-01-2014, 08:17, views: 2 126


Uyo — The Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises, (BPE), Mr Benjamin Dikki, recently visited the Aluminum Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON), to ascertain claims of asset stripping at the plant. In this interview with our correspondent in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, after the visit, Dikki explains issues surrounding the claims. Excerpts.


What informed your visit to ALSCON?


We are here because we have heard a lot of information or misinformation that this plant was being vandalized and equipment removed. And so, it was a concern to us and we felt that we should not allow one of our key national assets to be vandalised and be made non-operational. That is why we embarked on this trip; to see with our eyes, and with few personnel also coming along with us to establish the veracity of these claims.


You have all gone round and have seen with your eyes, that all the equipment we have seen are actually being operationalised - they are all in functional mode. What are being moved out are scrapped and waste products that have accumulated in the factory over a long period of time and we have seen them. These are things that will not be useful to this factory and in fact they are environmental hazards and should actually be removed from the business premises as soon as it is feasible.


We will find out exactly where these rumours are coming from; whether people are trying to agitate for issues and are trying to use this as a medium of negotiation. We will sit down with the relevant stakeholders and find out exactly what the problem is and see if we can resolve it.

The state House of Assembly has passed a resolution calling on your agency to come and take over ALSCON, now that you have visited the plant, what is your reaction?


Well, I did not go round the place alone, all of you here went round the place; did you see any equipment that was vandalized? We have talked to Nigerian directors, our own brothers who have a stake in this company being alive, they are indigenes of this country and they have a stake holding. If this plant stops production they will also lose their jobs. So I have talked to three Nigerian directors and all of them are right here in front of us and they have confirmed to us that there has been no vandalisation of any equipment and we have seen with our eyes that what are being moved out are things that cannot be used, spares parts that are broken and cannot be used for production again and are littering the factory premises and in fact creating an environmental problem. Like I said we will find out the source of the rumours, may be people have issues and they want them resolved. We will engage all the stakeholders.


How soon will the issue of inadequate gas supply be resolved?


The issue of gas supply is not restricted to ALSCON alone it is a major challenge for even for the gas fired power plants. You know that there are 10 NIDPs that are coming on stream. Gas has been a major challenge, but the federal government is working towards addressing all these issues. Out of the 1 billion dollars loan secured recently by the federal government, a good portion of it is being reserved for the expansion of gas infrastructures, so that we get over this issue of gas because it is not only ALSCON that is affected, even our power plants are affected by lack of gas supply.


We were informed that when the scraps were being removed, the traditional ruler and the local government chairman requested for a meeting with the management of ALSCON, but they refused to come. Why did they turn down that meeting if there was no skeleton in their cupboard?


Well, I will not be in a position to speak for ALSCON. We first of all wanted to inspect the factory and see with our eyes that there are no issues of vandalisation. Like I told you, tonight we are going to have a meeting with the relevant stakeholders, the labour union, the communities to find out exactly what the issues are. If there are communication gaps we will bridge the communication gaps and if there are other more serious issues we will look at them and try to resolve them as amicably as possible.


Is it possible for BPE to establish an independent investigation to give a technical assessment of the plant different from the internal directors and engineers?


I want to assure that this is not the first time such a rumour was being spread that the plant was being vandalised. I came here myself and a team in April when there was a rumour that the plant was being vandalised, After that trip we set up a technical committee with members from the federal Ministry of Mines and Solid Minerals and other experts and they came and took a look and certified that there was no issue of vandalisation. We only came as an advance party now to see for ourselves.


We will send another technical team from the same ministry to come and give us a technical assessment of the situation on ground. This is not because we are questioning the credibility of the directors and the engineers that are here in ALSCON. The people that are coming from the ministry will not know better than these directors who are Nigerians working and earning their living in this company.


They will not tell us lies or mislead us into concluding that this factory is working when it is not working, because they have their job and employment here, and the community also has access to free electricity from this plant. They have schools that are being built, they have hospitals that are being serviced by this company, so the communities and the directors are all stakeholders and I believe we will find out what the issues are and address them.

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