By Henry Umoru
ABUJA—THE Federal Government yesterday gave an insight into why it had been difficult to fully concession the Ajaokuta Steel Plant, citing legal encumbrances from the decision of the London Court of Arbitration over the ownership of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, ASC.
Disclosing this in Abuja during the 2018 Budget defence of the Ministry before the Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe, PDP, Abia South led Joint Senate and House of Representatives Committee on Power, Steel Development and Metallurgy, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, said until all issues from the London Court of Arbitration were addressed, it would be difficult to ensure full concessioning of the steel complex.
Though the legal issue exists, Fayemi was, however, optimistic that concessioning of both the Ajaokuta Steel Plant and the National Iron Ore Mining Company at Itakpe, both in Kogi State would be accomplished this year.
This came as the Sole Administrator of AtSC, Sumaila Abdul-Akaba, told the committee that a 2010 audit report had indicated that $1.2 billion was required to turn around the moribund steel plant.
The sole administrator said the amount included balance of external infrastructure, noting that $513 million was for rehabilitation, completion and commissioning while 4687 would be used for balance of external infrastructure.
Sumaila Abdul-Akaba who appealed to the committee to ensure the total rehabilitation, completion and commissioning of the steel complex describing the plant as viable, also told the committee that by April 55 mw electricity plant installed in the complex would soon come on stream.
According to him, there were 10,000 houses in the complex with about 4,000 completed, assuring the committee that machines installed in the complex were first class, “all we need to do is to sort out legal issues surrounding Ajaokuta Steel to bring the plant to run.”
He noted that over $10 billion steel imported into the country annually could be save if Ajaokuta was brought on stream.
Corroborating the Sole Administrator, the Minister, said that $ 1.2 billion was required to achieve total rehabilitation, completion and commissioning of the plant, noting that of the total sum required, $513million was earmarked for rehabilitation while $687 million was to be expended for balance of external infrastructure.