Unemployment looms as flood wrecks havoc in Onitsha industrial estate

Unemployment looms as flood wrecks havoc in Onitsha industrial estate

…the Harbor-Bridge Head Industrial Layout is a major manufacturing cluster in Nigeria with over 50 companies and factories

Infrastructure and equipment worth millions of naira have been destroyed by the rampaging flood while thousands of jobs are being threatened in various companies in Harbor-Bridge Head Industrial Layout, Onitsha, Anambra State.

National President, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Otunba Francis Meshioye disclosed this when he visited the layout in the commercial city to assess the level of damage done on factories in the area by the flood disaster. 

Harbor Bridge Head Industrial Layout which is on the bank of River Niger in Onitsha, plays host to numerous top level manufacturing companies in Southeast region.

While commiserating with state government over several deaths recorded in the deluge, just as well as his members and others whose facilities were affected, Meshioye urged Federal Government to explore Public Private Partnership (PPP) windows in finding lasting solutions to the perennial flood disaster. 

He said, “There are many options the Federal Government has in finding lasting solutions to this challenge which include short term, long term and permanent solutions to this crisis. But most important is the urgent but permanent option. 

“The Federal Government must consider private public arrangement in dredging of the two major rivers in Nigeria and construction of dams that will mitigate the impact when excess water is released from Lagdo Dam in Cameroon. 

“In the interim, however, we as an association will look at the immediate causes of the flood, look at the impacts on infrastructure and equipment and suggest solution to state and Federal governments on what must be done to alleviate the sufferings of local manufacturers here who have suffered heavy losses.”

Chairman, Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN, Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States Chapter, Lady Ada Chukwudozie expressed fears that the deluge would continue to shrink the business ecosystem for companies on the bank of the River Niger.

She said, “The Harbor-Bridge Head Industrial Layout, Onitsha is a major manufacturing cluster in Nigeria with over 50 companies and factories that have created jobs in thousands and invested massively in infrastructure, wealth creation, security, improving the living standards and in other areas of corporate social responsibilities in their host communities. 

“Unfortunately, the layout and the Southeast region have suffered economic disruptions, ocasioned by insecurity and incessant sit-at-home orders in the region, which has reduced production capacity and business activities in the harbor.

“This flood disaster in particular is regretably avoidable as a flood of the same magnitude had taken place over ten years ago. The 2012 deluge should provide all stakeholders involved the opportunity and lessons to avert future disasters of this nature. 

“We have suffered huge losses from this and there needs to be taken urgent actions to permanently solve the problem of the flood.”

Speaking on behalf of the affected companies, Executive Chairman of Pokobros Group West Africa Limited, Chief Paul Okonkwor blamed Federal Government for allowing the disaster to become a regular occurrence. 

He wondered the rationale behind allocating billion of naira for flood relief interventions when such resources could be channeled towards finding lasting solution to the disaster.

“Government’s unresponsiveness to such situations will continue to lead to huge capital flight from the country as local manufacturers continue to look for countries with better business climates and discouraging foreign investors.

“I believe that the flood causing this menance in our society has a permanent solution. If Cameroun can control her flood and open their dam every year against us and we cannot manage the situation by building dams, why then are we the giant of Africa?”, he asked.

Also speaking, Chairman, Dozzy Group, Chief Dan Chukwudozie expressed confidence that wider conversation would be initiated to address the flood disaster in the country with the visit of the leadership of the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.

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