The National Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP) or automotive policy has the potential to drive the development of the nation’s automotive sector into a major base for the country’s economy, if the provisions are effectively implemented.
The NAIDP, popularly known as the automotive policy, also has what it takes to make Nigeria the hub of the continent’s automotive industry.
These were the views expressed by the Director of Operations, Iron Products Industries (IPI), Lagos, Mr. Davies Obinna Ikegbula, while conducting a section of the motoring press round the company’s chain of production facilities in the Ikotun area of Lagos, where commercial vehicles of various brands, including Tata, are built and assembled.
Ikegbula remarked that a timely execution of the policy which seeks to revitalise the auto industry by discouraging vehicle importation and encouraging local production, can help boost activities in the industry and lead to the production of affordable, but top quality vehicles for the local market and export.
According to him, existing auto plants like IPI, Innoson and PAN, as well as new original equipment investors attracted by the NAIDP, have the capacity to meet the nation’s vehicular needs, including passenger cars, commercial vehicles (like pick-ups, light and heavy duty trucks), and special purpose articulated vehicles like haulage tankers and trailers.
He, therefore, implored the Federal Government to introduce incentives and policies that will help the local industry to thrive, in addition to addressing the challenges which have militated against progress in the industry, including the problem of power, FOREX and high exchange rate.
Described as the clear leader in the structural steel works and steel fabrication industry in the country, IPI’s main factory on Ikotun-Egbe road, Ikotun, Lagos, was busy like a beehive when the visitors arrived to witness sundry heavy duty truck bodies in various stages of construction.
At work were a wide range of high precision equipment, including cutting and bending machines that were fabricating steel frames and metal sheets for the construction of underground tanks (for fuel stations), heavy-duty trailers, tankers, and bottle carriers for the brewing and bottling companies.
Particularly interesting were the sights of men and machine working in tandem to put finishing touches on a bottle carrier built on Tata chassis for 7up Bottling Company, a 15-metre beer carrier for the Nigerian Breweries and another 15-metre truck with refrigerated sealed body operated with remote control.
About five minutes drive away is the plant’s annex dedicated to the assembly of Tata vehicles, especially a range of light trucks, some of which had just rolled off the finish line. The annex also produces assembles Howo Sinotruk heavy duty trailer heads, and constructing trailer bodies, tankers and underground steel tanks.
At yet another IPI annex close by, the General Manager, disclosed that no fewer than 30 units of steel or aluminum boxed bodies can be built on various chassis a day. Some of the finished bodies were built Tata’s Ex2 chassis.
He stressed that the plant has a large clientele of satisfied corporate customers, including breweries and bottling companies who are pleased with IPI’s quality of work and quick delivery policy, especially on the six and 10 pallet carriers.
“We do not make noise. Rather, we let our products speak for us”, Ikegbula said while reacting to the surprise expressed by the visitors who were pleasantly surprised that so much activities were quietly raging at the IPI factories with little or no publicity.
Some of the journalists said they neither knew about IPI’s partnership with Tata on the assembly of the trucks, nor were they aware of the construction of truck bodies at the factories.
One of the leading steel fabricators in Nigeria, IPI commenced business as a structural steel works company and has continued to grow and diversify into all sectors of the steel fabrication industry. IPI is managed by a dedicated team of experts with wide range of experience. Our team of engineers and staff has many years of hands-on experience, backed by continuous training over the years, to keep up with the rapid technological changes.
“We have worked all over Nigeria, and our products can be seen on Nigerian roads, factory buildings and warehouses, several landing jetties, and in the oil industry – upstream filling stations, forecourts, underground tanks, storage depots, and truck bodies”.
BPP lauds Kia plant’s focus on local content development
For making serious efforts towards raising the level of local content in Kia cars produced at its assembly plant in Isolo, Lagos, Kia Motors Nigeria Limited has earned the commendation of the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), which regulates procurement in all Federal Government departments and agencies..
Top officials of BPP who toured the plant recently said they were impressed that Kia Motors – through its auto assembly arm, United Vehicle Assembly Limited (UVAL) – has been making “conscious efforts” to expand the list of locally sourced input in its assembly operations.
The Director, Special Procurement, Eze J. Obasi, an engineer, and Head, Research, Training and Strategic Planning Department (RTSP), Adebowale Adedokun, acknowledged that UVAL’s drive towards increased local content was in tandem with the policy that requires auto plants to achieve at least 30 per cent local content in order to qualify for patronage from official quarters.
The duo said government was not unmindful of the many challenges militating against the endeavour by the local assembly plants to substitute imported components with locally made parts, explaining that efforts were being made to address the problems.
The BPP officials, who were taken round the various sections of the assembly plant by the Chief Operations Officer, Mr. Gitesh Yagnik, and the Chief Commercial Officer, Mr Sandeep Malhotra, were highly impressed even though they visited at a time very little production activities were going on due to the general lull in the auto market.
“What we saw was very commendable. We believe that if the various bottlenecks they face are removed, they will do very well”, Obasi remarked.
Obasi listed some of the problems the auto makers face as insufficient power supply, difficulty in getting foreign exchange, lack of steel and the issue of the influx of second-hand vehicles (tokunbo). He said government was aware that a vibrant auto industry generates employment, and is therefore, addressing the problems, stressing “with time, you will start seeing the results”.
According to him, government was also considering placing a ban on the importation of used vehicles, an action which is believed to be capable shoring up demand for locally made vehicles.
The Director further lauded United Vehicle Assembly’s training programme for the largely Nigerian technical staff involved in vehicle assembly. Hundreds of them, it was learnt, are scheduled to undergo various courses abroad.
Also present to welcome the visitors were Kia Motors Nigeria Marketing Manager, Mr. Olawale Jimoh, and Plant Engineer, Mr. Nsikak Tom.
UVAL formally flagged off assembly operations at the plant early last year in response to the Nigerian Automotive Industry Development Plan (NAIDP), introduced by the Federal Government. The plant where all, but a couple of Kia cars, are produced, has capacity for about 25, 000 units per annum.
Go ‘cashless’, luxury bus owners counsel travellers
•Want better security on highways
Following increased attacks by robbers on various routes across the country, long distance luxury bus operators have advised their passengers to always avoid boarding the vehicles with huge cash in order not to tempt the criminals.
Rather than carry large sums of money on them, especially during night journeys, intending passengers should take advantage of the various means of transferring money electronically and keep just enough to take care of their travel expenses.
The luxury bus operators who spoke through the managers of some leading luxury bus transport firms at the popular Upper Iweka in Onitsha, Anambra state, enjoined the travelers to embrace the use of drafts and various e-banking innovations, including automated teller machine (ATM), point of sale (POS) and other internet-enabled platforms in their transactions.
According to the spokesman of the managers’ forum, Tony Ogbonna, the enlightenment campaign became necessary due to the frequent cases of armed robbery involving luxury buses lately, especially at night, which result in human and material losses to both the passengers and the transporters.
“This is not restricted to any particular route. Our buses plying Abuja-Lagos or going to the east from Abuja; those playing Lagos-Shagamu-Ore-Benin-Onitsha-Port Harcourt; and those on Aba-Onitsha-Lagos route, are all targeted by the robbers who are usually merciless in their attacks”, Ogbonna said.
Last year, the umbrella union of long distance bus transporters, Association of Luxury Bus Owners of Nigeria (ALBON) counselled the public on the need to always travel cashless, enjoining them to avail themselves of new methods in modern banking in their transactions to avoid being easy preys to the robbers.
The association had lamented that regardless of its preventive measures, like discouraging passengers from boarding with excess cash, the criminals had continued to lay siege on members’ vehicles on the erroneous assumption that passengers, particularly traders, were still in the habit of travelling with a lot of money in their possession.
Interestingly, the association’s statement clearly informed the gangsters of the transporters’ no-cash policy, adding: “So, it will be foolhardy and an exercise in futility for any robber to attack any luxury bus nationwide with the sole aim of getting large sums of money from the passengers in such a bus”.
However, at the Otto, Lagos terminal of one of the popular transport firms, the manager lamented that despite all the efforts to make the buses and their passengers less attractive to the robbers, the incident has continued up till yesterday (last week). He said the various transport firms were worried that the robberies had increased in frequency and viciousness.
He, therefore, recommended increased security on the highways to arrest the situation.
Echoing this call, Ogbonna said: “Effective patrol of the highways, both day and night, is one sure way of at least curbing the menace of the robbers. We are appealing to the Federal Government to come to the rescue of the transporters and travellers by specially equipping and deploying patrol teams to the nation’s highways for day and night anti-crime operations.”
The manager would not agree that the ultimate solution is to stop night trips, arguing that it remains a very convenient way for many traders and even workers to travel due to the time it saves them. “Many of the passengers get to their destinations early in the morning, transact their businesses, and enter night buses again back to base, thereby saving a lot of time”.
Stating that overnight journeys are common in many parts of the world, he further argued that if the security agencies would do a good job of effectively patrolling the roads, more Nigerians would prefer night journeys, “because it is also cool and the roads are clear with little or no traffic”.