For several years now, the industrial sector in Plateau State has collapsed due to protracted security challenges and long years of neglect by successive administration in the state. In this piece, GOLOK NANMWA writes that efforts are being made to revive some comatose industries by the present administration, one of them being the Highland Bottling Company.


One of the promises of the present administration in Plateau State right from the beginning was that it would promote an enabling environment to boost commerce and industry in the state. Governor Simon Lalong also pledged to revive most moribund commercial projects in Plateau in order to boost the Internal Generated Revenue, IGR.
Recently, the state government signed an agreement with Hummer Drinks Ltd, a soft-drinks producing company to refurbish abandoned Highland Bottling Company in Barkin Ladi that has been abandoned for over 20 years. The chairman of technical committee of Plateau Investment and Property-development Company, PIPC, Chief Ezekiel Gomos, while commending the state government over the laudable steps to revamp the company, noted that the development was in line with the industrialisation policy of Governor Lalong’s administration.
He said, “For us in PIPC, history is being made today; the signing of this agreement is a culmination of efforts of several years.” He said the company had been shut since 1995, but by the initiative of the governor, the committee decided not to allow it remain shut. “By this, revenue will be generated for the state, and our youths will be employed”, he added.
Also speaking, Mr. Joseph Umoru, MD/CEO of Hummer Drinks Ltd said “it has been a very long journey to this day after extensive feasibility studies”, adding that Hummer company is an indigenous company with expertise, skills, and capacity to produce and market well tested world brands. He thanked PIPC and the state government for counting his company worthy for the project, adding that “we are going to invest over N100 million to revitalise the company. And we shall start by producing bottled water to refreshing Plateau and other parts of the country.
“We are also developing brands like soya milk, malt, carbonated drinks, and other nutritional drinks like zobo.” He said work on the company will take off immediately by cleaning up the company, working on the machines and raising and rebuilding the structure.
Similarly, the state government recently inaugurated a six-man committee to boost IGR of the Jos Metropolitan Development Board, JMDB. The government also said the measure was taken to reduce the state’s dependence on the monthly allocation from the federation account.
Inagurating the committee recently in Jos, the Commissioner for Housing and Urban Development, Sam Galadima, said following the fall in the prices of oil at the international market, the state government has no choice but to look inward in order to generate revenue. According to him, “Governor Simon Lalong is committed to providing the dividends of democracy to the people and can not do that without funds.
“It became necessary to inaugurate the committee as our economic challenges have compelled us to see ahead and look ahead Plateau has the potentials of boosting it,s IGR “ We have what it takes to boost our revenue like that of Lagos state”, he said. He however lamented that some civil servants in the state are frustrating the efforts of government at boosting revenue in JMBD and warned that any staff caught would be dealt with.
Galadima charged members of the committee to deliver and commence work immediately. He said the committee would develop new ways of generating revenue in line with constitutional provision. Also speaking at the occasion, the chairman of the committee Mr Fabian Ntung, thanked the state government for the privilege and assured that they would submit reports that would boost the IGR of the board.
It could be recalled that the state government recently said that plans are at their final stage to commence the rebuilding of the Jos Main Market that was razed by fire in 2001, noting that government’s goal was to enhance commercial activities in Jos and its environs.
Addressing news men, the chairman, Project Implementation Unit for the development of the market, Chief Ezekiel Gomos said 12 reputable transaction advisers had bided for the job, but four were selected after thorough and transparent evaluation, adding that the four will be invited and given one month to submit their technical and financial proposals for the job, after which one will finally be selected.
“The four will be invited and would be given one month to submit their technical and financial proposals; they are expected to submit to government through the ministry of commerce/PIU telling government how they intend to carry out the assignment and how much it will cost.”
He also added that “Because government has opted to develop the market using Private/Public Partnership, PPP, it is only fair that we get a Transaction Adviser who is sound in PPP arrangement; PPP is a new concept in Nigeria for financing projects. We are doing it in line with Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).”
Gomos was optimistic that by end of April, the selected bidder would have emerged after which the market project will be handed over to the bidder by May 2016. “The adviser will now advertise for private sector players who have funds to come and develop the market, and the job will be handed over to the private sector for work to begin on or before June.”
He said government doesn’t have the fund to reconstruct the market now because of its competing needs, and that was the reason it has opted for partnership with the private sector for the job, knowing that apart from the commercial importance of the project, there are also security, tourism, and indeed several other benefits.