Bamigbola Gbolagunte, Akure
The investment drive of the Ondo State government is generating excitement among farmers and other residents of the state. A number of foreign investors, it was gathered, have expressed readiness to commence operations in the Ore Industrial Hub, located in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.
Governor Rotimi Akeredolu had expressed concerns over the economic development of the state, hence his call on foreign and local investors to make use of the abundant natural resources in Ondo State.
This is even as residents have called on the governor to fix major roads within the state, especially the ones that lead to the Ore business hub, to allow easy transportation of raw materials and goods from all parts of the state.
Although the Akeredolu government has commenced rehabilitation of major roads in the state, including the construction of a flyover on the Benirn-Ore Expressway, residents complained that some rural roads were left unattended to. They appealed to the state government to extend the rehabilitation and construction works to rural areas where many raw materials are sourced.
A resident of Odigbo, Mr. Lukeman Okeowo, said major agricultural products and raw materials that will be needed at the Ore industrial hub are available in many of the rural communities in the state, hence the need for the state government to provide accessible roads to the hub from the rural communities.
“Our major problem in the rural communities is bad roads. The moment the government fixes the roads that lead to the cities, it will help the rural dwellers, especially farmers who engage in planting of the raw materials. This will in turn be an added advantage for the firms already existing in the state or the ones that are planning to move in.
“We need better roads to Ore from the neighbouring towns and villages. This is the only way by which we can enjoy the new firms already located in the town,” he said.
Meanwhile, the governor has facilitated the establishment of manufacturing outfits in the Ore industrial hub, as the hub now contains five different companies manufacturing different items.
This development, Daily Sun gathered, has provided employment for many young persons in the state, some of whom currently work in the Ore industrial hub.
The Ondo State Commissioner for Information, Mr. Yemi Olowolabi, said Wewood, an international construction firm with headquarters in China, has already established a company in Ore, producing alcoholic beverages, home utensils and furniture.
He noted that the state was blessed with abundant mineral resources, especially bitumen and crude oil, which are capable of attracting foreign and local investors.
“The investment drive of Akeredolu is gradually paying off a little over two years after he took office. At least, five new companies are commencing operations in the Ore Industrial hub, in Odigbo Local Government Area of the state.
“In Ondo State, the last time genuine efforts were made to industrialise the state was during the administration of Chief Adekunle Ajasin, between 1979 and 1983,” Olowolabi noted. “Five companies, including a paper mill, ethanol plant, medium density fibreboard, high density fibreboard, plywood and a textile company have sprouted from the mustard seed that was planted when the state signed a memorandum of understanding with Linyi Municipal Government of Shandong Province in China.”
Akeredolu had earlier kicked-off the 10,000 hectares forestation project, where gmelina arborea has been planted on 1,500 of the 10,000 hectares.
Business development manager of Wewood Limited, Mr. Sun Peng, said a special species of cassava was being planted in-between the gmelina, which would be used to feed the ethanol plant.
Peng said the ethanol factory was almost ready, with 95 per cent of the work completed.
Daily Sun gathered that farmers in the state are excited about the ready market for their goods. It was gathered that cassava, which is the major item for the production of ethanol, would be sourced directly from them.
Shehu Oladapo, a cassava farmer in Odigbo, praised the state government for the initiative. “Farmers, like me now have a ready market for our cassava. It has encouraged us to increase the number of hectares that we will prepare to grow cassava for the next harvest season,” he said.
Ahmed Adeyinka, the Nigerian manager of WinWin Textile, said the factory had started producing polyester sewing thread. The factory would soon move to the next stage of producing textile materials like lace and Ankara, among others.
“Presently, we have 300 people working with us. We now produce all kinds of sewing polyester thread for the local market. In a couple of months, the factory will begin to run at full capacity with the production of textile materials of all kinds,” Adeyinka said.
And Peng added: “The Weewood Plywood/HDF factory has also commenced production. Young men and women, who would have been roaming the streets, are busy with one task or the other. The company’s products, high quality fibreboard plywood are already in high demand in local markets across the country, while the state is being positioned to earn foreign currency through the export of the product.”
He said the paper mill would employ more than 3,000 direct staff upon completion, adding that many more people would benefit from jobs created down the value chain.
“Long before the machines for the mill began to arrive here, we had started planting the trees that would form the primary raw materials for the mill. Today, the trees continue to grow into maturity. The governor deserves commendation for this initiative. This is a win-win situation for Ondo State and its people,” he said.
Chief press secretary to the governor, Mr. Segun Ajiboye, said: “The Ore Industrial Park is fashioned after that of Linyi Municipal Government of Shandong Province in China. Investors under Shandong group have made good their promise to make Ondo State a model for one-stop industrial park in the country.
“The administration of Governor Akeredolu has set a standard by which governance would be measured in the country with the elaborate investment in the state and the revenue that will accrue to the coffers of the government. This is in addition to the jobs that will be generated through the project.”