By Dennis Agbo
ENUGU — The “think home; build home,” mantra of the South East Development Initiative, SELDI is now yielding positive results with plans to establish a new $5 billion vehicle manufacturing company in Enugu State. The company would offer employment to about 750 workers.
Already plans have been concluded for the new vehicle assembly plant to be inaugurated at its factory site, Kilometer 13, 9th Mile Corner – Egede Expressway, along Egede- Nsukka expressway, Egede in Udi Local Government Area of the state on December 10 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The new auto assembly plant, Easter Vehicle Assembling Limited, EVAL, is coming several years after the Anambra State- born business mogul, Innocent Chukwuma, started his Innoson Motor Manufacturing Company also, in the Coal City.
EVAL would be commissioned by President Buhari while the Enugu State Governor, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and his Abia State counterpart, Okezie Ikpeazu, would be Chief host and co-hosts, respectively.
The Managing Director of EVAL, Okechukwu Chika Moses, told South East Voice that the project was one of its kind in the country with its 21st century vehicles, 100 percent steel construction technology as well as Nigeria’s first 3G real time system vehicles with Sedan and midium size SUVs.
According to Moses, EVAL is a major experienced Chinese vehicle manufacturer with the HUTAI Motors Group, as a joint venture partner. He also said that this was a clear indication that the Asia-based vehicle manufacturer and the only Chinese company with Property right was eager to establish in the country.
Moses noted that EVAL was with Buhari during his visit to China where the president saw for himself what the company was all about; adding that the Chinese had been looking for a way to break into the Nigeria market until EVAL came into the picture, adding that South East would soon become the “motor city of Nigeria.”
“They have a large plant in Angola and they are coming into Nigeria to take a large chunk of the market share. They will develop our own local materials to support the vehicles; we will reduce our dependence on foreign components,” he added. He noted that cars would be made up of 250 components which be sourced out to vendors “but here in Nigeria we will develop the engine. It’s a huge task ahead and we are going to make the cars affordable with five years warranty. Showrooms will be located in the six geopolitical zones of the country.”
Moses bemoaned Nigeria’s policy inconsistencies with international trade, stating particularly that it had issues with the Nigerian Customs while bringing in the car samples. “It gives us joy that while others are leaving, we are coming in. Between now and 10 years to come, the south east will be called motor city, all we ask for is the enabling environment.
“We are happy for the Enugu Free Trade Zone which is a good thing for particularly as it covers our area of production, the 9th mile area. We don’t have oil in the south east but we have the technology and the doggedness. The vehicles are second to none, south east is where it is and it’s our region, it is good for the south east to compete industrially because even in China, the regions compete. With God on our side we will go a long way,” Moses further stated.
He also said that for now the plant would be producing 600 vehicles per annum and progress with time even as the staff would enjoy maximum. “The SUV brand name is MUNA and it has all comfort from leather seats to SD cards, fuel efficiency, and turbo-charged automatic transmis-sion. It is an intelligent car. We will bring down the cost for Nigerians to afford it,” he explained.