By Ugochukwu Alaribe & Eric Ugbor
UMUAHIA-The Aba automated shoe factory is set to commence operations, September 2020.
Technical partner of the Factory, Mr Osaro Ekonweren, who disclosed this after the inauguration of the Board of the company by Gov.Okezie Ikpeazu, in Umuahia, described the Aba Automated Shoe Factory as currently having the most updated shoe producing machines in the country.
In his words, “We were amazed and impressed by what we saw on ground. Our group has been into shoe production in Nigeria for over a decade now and I must confess that the machines we saw there when we went on inspection cannot be found anywhere in the country. We use machines in our own company but what we have is nowhere near what is at the Aba Shoe Factory.”
Ekonweren further explained that the factory has an installed capacity for the production of 5,000 pairs of shoes daily which translates to about 2 million pairs of shoes annually.
He added that there are facilities for expansion and assured that they would expand the capacity of the factory within the next year.
He saluted Gov.Ikpeazu’s foresight in establishing the factory, stressing that the factory will change the face of shoe production in Nigeria.
Ekinweren stated that his organization’s selection as technical partners for the factory was based on proven track record of quality automated shoe production spanning over 10 years.
Emphasizing that they make shoes for companies like PEP of South Africa, among others, he assured that the products from Aba factory will be well received by the markets.
“Products from this factory will not just be for the local market here but will be sold across West Africa and beyond. The factory will be run as a professional and commercial outfit with clear opportunities for value addition and job creation.
On when actual production will commence at the factory, he assured that they will start test runs in the next two weeks while they will start production by the second week of September.
He boasted that by December 2020, shoes from the factory would have gained ground in the local and international markets.
He also stated that the factory will also produce other leather works like bags, belts, wallets, etc.
Also speaking, the Executive Director, Operations of the Factory, Mr Chinenye Nwaogu said that with the new management structure in place, Gov.Ikpeazu has sent a clear message that the factory will be run solely on a basis of professionalism.
He said that the 30 shoemakers who were trained in China by the Governor on the use of machines in shoe production will form the initial technical staff of the factory while there will be huge emphasis on training for more operators.
Nwaogu explained that the delay in the start of production at the factory was because the Governor had insisted that a professional organization must be found to run the place and the process took some time, coupled with the pandemic of COVID-19 which shut down the country for about 3 months.
The Governor inaugurated the Board of the Factory yesterday and gave them a clear mandate to raise the bar and cement the place of Abia State as the powerhouse of leather works in Nigeria and West Africa. The Board has Mr. Mark Atasie, a Management Consultant, as Chairman.