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ALSCON’s collapse dashed our hopes —Eshiet


David Eshiet

The Chairman of Ikot Abasi Local Council, David Eshiet, is saddened at the gradual blight that ALSCON has suffered. He told ANIETIE AKPAN that hopes of it bringing about a turnaround in the social and economic fortunes of his council have evaporated.

On Impact Of Failed ALSCON On The People
When the Aluminium Smelting Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) came on stream and production commenced, we were a very happy as our people benefited and Ikot Abasi was bubbling, socially and economically, just like Eket. Unfortunately, ALSCON came, blossomed like a beautiful flower and then died. Now, activities here are nothing to write home about; the fledgling economy that was picking up is gone; the Ibom Power Plant is not employing many, and the entire pressure is on the local council. We are trying our best, but no tangible change has been brought about in ALSCON by RUSAL. We have not seen any sign that ALSCON is on the verge of coming back. It’s a very bad story, and that is why we are asking, why is this happening to Ikot Abasi? Why is that when big federal government project come this way they only blossom shortly and die?

Relationship Between Local Council And RUSAL
I will not say that it is cordial because it is not. They feel that since it is the Federal Government that concessioned the facility to them, they don’t really have to relate with us. I have written a letter inviting them to come and interface with us, in order for us to know their state of readiness, but up till now, they have not responded. If it was within my purview, the Russians would not be given the plant to manage because their lifestyle is not okay with us- the local council, maybe they are relating well with the chiefs because they believe in colonialism. My council’s concern now is how ready are they to manage this massive plant that the Federal Government concessioned to them in order to positively affect the lives of their host community, which we have to synergise with the Federal Government to ensure that their lives are better.

Complaints Of Marginalisation By Former Employees
This is one of the reasons that I wanted them to come and interface with us. In fact, I have a document from one of the former employees that is living in the quarters, which they have issued a quit notice without paying the man his entitlements. They asked him to vacate the quarters and the man refused because his entitlements have not been paid. Since the man stayed put pending the settlement of his entitlement, they went there and disconnected his electricity supply. That is why I said that the Russians are not humane. If it were within my powers, they would never have been granted the opportunity to manage the facility. Now, they are using every means to get the man out of the accommodation. After cutting off his electricity supply, they have now stopped him from driving in, or out with his car. So, the man now treks. We need to rise and ask them why they are treating our people like this?

Changing Line Of Business
ALSCON came to Ikot Abasi as an export-oriented business, but now, it is into property business, leasing the township apartments to companies and individuals and collecting rent in dollars, and they are supposed to pay tenement rate to us, but they have bluntly refused to do that. We will surely do something because engaging in apartments renting is quite different from exporting aluminium ingots. In as much as they are renting out their apartments, they should pay tenement rate to the local council. The general impression in town is that they should go, except for the few who may be benefitting from them. If you ask the common man in Ikot Abasi, they are not feeling the impact of these people ever since they came.

When the Russians came in whatever disguise, the plant was still running, they managed the plant and used the resources that Reynold the managers of ALSCON at that time left behind. When the materials got exhausted, they stopped. They were giving us light here that time, but because they are not producing, they cut-off the light supply, now all you see is trailers coming in a carting things away. When we ask questions, they will say those things are scraps, and I ask, which one are you bringing in? I am afraid about this plant’s ability to come back to life because I have not seen anything serious on ground that is indicative of that. But despite all that has happened, our interest is how to get ASLCON to work again.”

In this article:
ALSCONDavid Eshiet
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