NIGERIA’S Ajaokuta Steel Mill has suffered a delay in its planned opening due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic which delayed the arrival of Russian engineers who were to come and upgrade the facility.
Ajaokuta Steel Mill was inaugurated by the then Soviet Union in 1979 but the project has simply refused to get off the ground as at the moment, three-quarters of the complex have been abandoned and only the light mills have been put into operation for small-scale fabrication and the production of iron rods. After several failed attempts at privatisation, the Nigerian government took back control of the facility in 2016 but the mill had still not produced a single sheet of steel.
In a bid to revive the mill, which is central to any Nigerian industrialisation plans, the federal government has asked Russia to come and resume control of the facility. However, , Sumaila Aka’aba, the sole administrator of Ajaokuta Steel Complex, Sumaila Aka’aba, has said the Covid-19 pandemic has led to the delay in the arrival of Russian engineers expected to upgrade the steel plant.
He added that the technical audit carried out in 2018 indicated that the status of the steel plant stood at 93.5%. Also, Mr Aka’aba revealed that the integrated plant was technically intact and would bounce back to life once the rehabilitation works were carried out.
Mr Aka’aba said: “Initially, you hear that Ajaokuta steel plant is at 98% completion but today it has come down to 95.3%. Hopefully, as soon as the airspace restriction is over, the Russians will come back and do revalidation of the audit report submitted to them.
He pointed out that after the revalidation they will be able to put pen on paper so that the project proper can commence. Mr Aka’aba added that the Ajaokuta steel plant, just like any other one in the world, could be upgraded and modernised to suite the present-day technological advancement.