Akin Akande, Abuja
As part of plans to halt the hundreds of billions of naira being spent on the importation of used cars into the country annually, the Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved the Automotive Industrial Policy Development Plan to encourage local manufacturing of vehicles and job creation.
This was sequel to a memo brought to the Council by the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment, Olusegun Aganga.
Briefing journalists after the meeting, Minister of Information, Labaran Maku said the policy would also ensure the gradual phasing out of used cars, known in local parlance as Tokunbos, in the country.
Aganga, who also attended the briefing revealed that Nigerians spent 4.2 billion dollars in 2010 to import used cars and 3.4 billion dollars for same purpose in 2012, adding that government was determined to put an end to this trend.
The Minister noted further that the pitfalls of similar policies in the past, like non-implementation of policies, lack of infrastructure, and inappropriate tariff regime; were considered and adequately addressed in the new one, with the involvement of Federal Road Safety Corps and local vehicle assembly plants in the country.
He disclosed that of all the highly populated countries in the world, only Nigeria and Bangladesh lacked a successful automotive policy.
Aganga outlined the highpoints of the new policy to include the establishment of three automotive clusters in Lagos/Ogun; Kaduna/Kano; and Anambra/Enugu states to share resources and reduce cost of investments, as well as the development and revival of the petrochemical and metal/steel sectors and the tyre manufacturing industry to support the automotive sector.
As part of the policy, Aganga said the Industrial Training Fund (ITF) is working with carmaker, Cena of Brazil, to open automotive training centres in Nigeria while two Nigerian universities have agreed to commence degree programmes in automechanical engineering.
The Minister announced that an appropriate tariff regimes to discourage car imports and encourage local manufacture would be put in place while government will continue to mandate its agencies to patronize locally made products.
Another fallout of the Council meeting was the approval of 39 billion naira for the rehabilitation and expansion of the outer Southern Expressway (OSEX) from Villa Round About to the OSEX / Ring Road 1(RR1) junction including five interchanges, in Abuja.
This according to FCT Minister, Senator Bala Mohammed was meant to ensure free flow of traffic and significantly reduce travel time in and out of the city.
“The existing segment of the OSEX from the villa roundabout to RR1 is only partially developed with a 2-lane main carriage way and one 2-lane service carriageway as against the 10 lane expressway provided in the Abuja Master-Plan. The OSEX is an expressway that bounds the city on the eastern fringe and provides the major access to the city, ” he noted.
The Council approved the contract in favor of Messrs CGZ Nig Ltd.
The Council also approved another memo brought to council by Bala Mohammed seeking approval for the provision of engineering infrastructure to plot 4075, Asokoro extension (comprising 50 plots).
The Council approved the contract, Abuja in favour of Messrs COAN (W.A) Limited in the sum of N1.7 billion with a completion period of 12 months.