A foremost industrialist and the chief executive officer of Camela Vegetable Oil Company Ltd, Owerri, Imo State, Engineer Okey Ikoro has called on Governor Hope Uzodimma to give adequate attention to industrial revolution and agricultural schemes as avenues of growing and developing the state. Ikoro made this assertion during an interactive section with journalists at his company’s head office at the Onitsha Road Industrial Layout, Owerri. “I must advise the governor to open industrial and agricultural windows and Imo State will fly”, he noted.
He lamented that the almost lack of basic infrastructure like roads, energy and power, water and security had made it practically impossible for industrialists and investors to bring their businesses to the state. According to him, “Let me start by saying that I was born and brought up in Aba, now Abia State.
However, but because of the Onitsha Road Industrial Layout in Owerri, built by the now late Commodore Ndubuisi Kanu and developed by the also late Chief Sam Mbakwe, I decided to locate my industry and business here. Mbakwe built all the roads, drainages, powered the light and installed adequate security network. Sadly, since 1983 when Mbakwe left office, this industrial layout has never received any government attention.
To this effect, everything here has been destroyed. The lights were vandalized, the drainage systems damaged because people used sand and refuse to fill it and the roads are embarrassingly impassable because of lack of maintenance. The effect is that almost all the companies that commenced operations here with us have either collapsed or relocated or almost gone”.
The industrialist wonders why successive governments in the state had never looked into the way of agricultural and industrial revolutions. He said, “I wonder why since 1983 when Mbakwe left office, no other governor has ever bothered to upgrade this Onitsha Industrial Layout or even establish new ones. This is because industrialization is a key factor in the mission of growing or developing a state or a country. Industrialization will not only guarantee employment opportunities, it will equally improve on the economic viability of the state, discourage youth restiveness and total insecurity even as it attracts development.”
He added; “During rainy season, here is a nightmare. During the Senator Rochas Okorocha administration, some expatriates came here and wondered why I am here but I informed them I am from here and so I must do my best to see how things work out. My brother wanted to bring his tummy-tummy factory to this place, but after the visibility check, he was displeased with what he saw and he left. There are many of his kind who have left here foe elsewhere due to poor infrastructure. I mean, if government cannot do 16kms road, if it is double lane, you now talk of 32kms, then, there is trouble. Pity us. You put factory here and you are on generator, yet I pay over N6m to EDDC for having no light; agencies of government harass you for sanitation, fumigation, environmental and security fees. It is that bad”.
Ikoro concluded by charging the Imo State governor to take a critical look at the Onitsha Industrial Layout and restore its lost glory by ensuring massive infrastructural renovation. He stated that one of the ways to reviving the layout was to bring gas from Izumbe to not just the place but the entire Owerri as a capital city. He pointed out that without regular power supply; their production was severely affected as their products would be relatively higher than others from elsewhere.