Ajaokuta to begin partial production before end of 2019 —Minister

Jumoke Adelabu – Abuja

The Federal Government is making frantic efforts to ensure that some sections of the Ajaokuta Steel Company (ASC) resumes production before the end of 2019.

The minister of Mines and Steel Development, Arc. Olamilekan Adegbite disclosed this when he received the Russian Ambassador to Nigeria, His Excellency Alexey Shebarshir who was on a courtesy visit to his office in Abuja.

Adegbite informed the Russian Ambassador that the federal government was working round the clock to ensure that some sections of the company start production before the end of the year. He assured his guest of government’s readiness to welcome any collaboration aimed at revitalising the steel complex to operate in full capacity, stressing that the revitalisation of Ajaokuta Steel Company to produce optimally is of utmost concern to the present administration.

According to him, plans are underway to engage relevant companies in meaningful discussions with a view to employing strategic approach on the best ways to revamp the steel company to full capacity operation.

He said this is to achieve the vision of making the company the bedrock of industrialisation not only in Nigeria but Africa at large.The minister pointed out that the federal government did not deliberately abandon the company, adding that the company has not been operational owing to some legal encumbrances. He said government has been expending huge amount of money to ensure that the assets at the company are not vandalised.

Speaking earlier, the Ambassador said his country was ready to partner with Nigeria in resuscitating Ajaokuta Steel Company especially in the areas of rebuilding infrastructure and overhauling of the plant.

He emphasised the need for the federal government to protect private investors who are interested in turning around the company for maximum production.While commenting on the partnership, the Russian deputy head of Mission, Trade and Economic Affairs, Valery Shaposhnikov, said they have carried out on-the-spot analysis of the challenges militating against smooth operation of the company, reiterating his country’s readiness from the inception of the company to harness the potential of steel in providing the necessary equipment for its development.