By NKIRUKA NNOROM
The Managing Director/CEO of Star Auto Industries Limited, the manufacturers of Apex Brake Pads and Lining, Mr. Chidi Ukachukwu, has raised alarm over threat of extinction of companies in the Friction Industry following massive dumping of inferior vehicle components from China as well as inconsistency in government policies.
Consequently, he called on the Federal Government to create enabling environment that would encourage manufacturing of vehicle components locally rather than importation of finished products, which is the order of the day. Speaking to newsmen during a factory tour of the company, Ukachukwu said that StarAuto Industries is the only surviving friction company out of six other companies that were in existence in Nigeria as at the time they commenced operation in 1999.
Friction industry comprise of manufacturers of vehicle components, which Brakes Pads and Lining are part of.
He noted that the company has been in and out of operation in its 13 years of operation due mainly to summersault in government policies and heavy taxation from various agencies of government among others.
He also lamented the epileptic power supply, stressing that 40 percent of the company’s cost goes into power generation. According to him, this has been one of the issues threatening the existence of the business, besides somersault in government policy.
Ukachukwu explained they have put all that is required to go back to production into place given an enabling operating environment, even as he assured of the quality of the company’s products, saying that Star Auto has improved much more than what it used to be when it commenced operation in 1999 with new and improved technology.
“Now we see that with government policy and what we are doing, if we are given the chance, we will be able to come back fully to production. We have decided to go back to production after closing shop for some time because the banks we are owing have the freedom to sell our building to recover their money because that is the security they have. If we just fold our hands without anybody knowing what we are dong, they will sell off our property before we know it,” Ukachukwu lamented.
Emphasising on the company’s quality assurance, he said, “In the past when we were fully in business, I sponsored creation of standard of friction being used by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria, SON, today; their reference point was sponsored by me.
“Today, we are the only friction company in Nigeria that has the testing equipment to decide the quality of vehicle components. We have the testing room where you can determine the quality, hardness, and the friction Brake Pads you produce.”
He posited Nigeria could not meet up with 80 percent local content on locally manufactured vehicle components due the challenge of sourcing raw material locally.
“For friction industry, you can develop a formulation that is 80 percent local content, but today, am not sure we can meet up with that because there is no processing industries in Nigeria to process these raw material. If as a manufacturer in friction industry, you decide to process it yourself, it becomes very expensive.