23rd September, 2010
The multi-billion naira Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited (IVM) plant builtÂ by Nnewi industrialist, Chief Innocent Chukwuma, OON, will be commissioned by PresidentÂ Goodluck Jonathan on 15 October, 2010.
The official commissioning of the Nnewi plant is expected to usher in a new phase in theÂ nationâ€™s auto industry, which has had a not-too-successful trajectory, with a good numberÂ of the auto assembly companies established by government between the 1970s and the 1980s,Â either dead or gasping for breath.
Only last week, the Minister of State toured the new Nnewi plant, where, by her ownÂ admission, she was amazed by the courage displayed by Chief Chukwuma, the hugeÂ Â investment so far made by the entrepreneur and the volume of production activities withinÂ the complex.
â€œI am highly impressed with what is available here. Chief Chukwuma is an individual, butÂ doing what the government is supposed to do. The auto plant is a big plus in terms ofÂ employment generation. The Chairman said that this place is only producing at 30 per centÂ of its actual capacity. One wonders what will happen when it starts operating fullyâ€
The minister also remarked that if more auto plants like Innosonâ€™s are established inÂ Â the country, â€œthe youths would smile and forget about unemployment. Chief Chukwumaâ€™sÂ initiative is amazing and I think he needs to be encouragedâ€.
Mrs Tapgun said her visit which came about three weeks ahead of the expectedÂ commissioning of the plant by President Jonathan, was due to the urge to see things forÂ herself and seek ways of supporting the project. â€œThe intervention fund available forÂ industries is a huge relief for people like him. And I expect him to benefit from it,â€Â she enthused.
And If recent developments at Innoson Vehicle Manufacturing Company Limited (IVM) are aÂ foretaste of what the future holds for the Nnewi-based auto plant, then it is well on theÂ way to becoming the corporate version of the biblical prophet that is respected moreÂ abroad than at home.
Though production is yet to gather full momentum, the plant and the vehicles that have soÂ far rolled off the production lines have been attracting attention from the ECOWASÂ sub-regional markets, particular Ghana which last week sent a top-level delegation toÂ Nnewi, to discuss business with the management of Innoson.
Led by the Deputy Minister for Transport, Madam Dzifa Aku Attivor, the visitors touredÂ various sections of the auto plant (and briefly watched production in progress), theÂ plastic-manufacturing sister company in Emene, Enugu, which supplies some of theÂ vehiclesâ€™ parts and accessories, as well as a new tyre manufacturing company, GeneralÂ Tyres and Tubes Limited, also a member of the Innoson Group.
The Deputy Minister who repeatedly expressed how â€œvery, very impressedâ€ she was duringÂ the tour of the auto plant, said she and her team were on a fact- finding mission. SheÂ disclosed that they were in Nigeria to explore the possibility of not just introducingÂ some of Innoson Groupâ€™s products to the Ghanaian market, but also setting up a similarÂ auto plant in Ghana.