The Akwa Ibom House of Assembly on Friday condemned the alleged destruction of Aluminium Smelter Company of Nigeria (ALSCON) in Ikot Abasi Local Government Area of the state by UC RUSAL, the Russian firm currently in charge of the management of the company.
The lawmakers made the criticism at a plenary session, following a motion on a matter of urgent public importance moved by Assemblyman Aboh Uduyok, member representing Ikot Abasi/Eastern Obolo Constituency.
Mr. Uduyok accused RUSAL of systematically destroying all the assets of ALSCON, which ought to have been a veritable tool of job creation for the youths of the state.
He alleged that RUSAL had sold the vital components of ALSCON’s machineries, including stem rods, anodes and Bussbarr/Riser, used in the manufacturing of steel ingots.
After a thorough debate on the issues raised, the House resolved that Gov. Godswill Akpabio should intervene and make urgent efforts to salvage the company from total destruction.
The House also resolved that the Bureau for Public Enterprises (BPE) should take over the plant and secure its assets.
It also directed that copies of the resolution should be forwarded to President Goodluck Jonathan and members of the National Assembly from Akwa Ibom.
The Speaker, Samuel Ikon, directed the House Committee on Commerce and Industry to carry out an in-depth investigation into the matter and report its findings soon.
He also directed the Acting Clerk of the House, Mandu Umoren, to communicate the Assembly’s resolution to the appropriate quarters for necessary action.
Workers of the company and a youth group from Ikot Abasi community, were the first to accuse the Russian firm of stripping the plant of core components with the aim of totally crippling its operations.
The workers, under the aegis of the Metal Products Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (MPSSAN), said UC RUSAL was dismantling and selling Stem Rods and Anodes, vital components of the plant used in the manufacture of steel ingots.
A spokesman of the workers association had told reporters in Abuja in August that the Russian firm was also cutting and melting the Bussbar/Risers used in transmitting electric current to the production pots for melting aluminium and selling them as ingots.
Also, 20 fairly-used company cars were said to be slated for immediate disposal.
A community youth known as ‘Mboho Ikot Abasi’ later wrote to the Managing Director of ALSCON, Stanislav Kruglyashav, demanding to meet with him to express their concern, and request for opportunity to tour the facility to verify the allegations. But the request was turned down.
During the meeting, it was gathered that UC RUSAL officials had said the dismantling and disposal of the Stem Rods, Anodes and Bussbar/Riser was to raise some funds to settle pressing financial issues, as the Russian government had since stopped sending subventions to RUSAL.
Dissatisfied by the company’s explanation for its action, the community, in a letter to the Managing Director, dated August 2 and signed by the President General, Donatus Uko, and Secretary General, Genesis Udoh, the group expressed concern over the rejection of their request, saying it must discontinue the “systematic cannibalisation of the plant facilities.”
“We wish to reiterate our earlier advice that you suspend further work on the cutting of Anode Stems and the proposed melting of their aluminium components for sale as ingots as well as the sale of the Stem Nipples to a contractor, which we understand has already been identified and is on standby,” the group said in the letter to the Managing Director, a copy of which was sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
“Equally, the continued stripping of the plant, including the rebagging of alumina and coke for sale should be discontinued. So should also be the dismantling of electrical Busbar Assemblies for sale.
“It is clear that the systematic cannibalisation of the plant facilities is not in the best interest of the plant, particularly in terms of the long term profile. We trust that you will see the issues raised above as of grave concern to the Ikot Abasi Community, who proudly acknowledge ALSCON as their inheritance, and cooperate with us in order to sustain the mutually cordial relationship, which has existed between ALSCON and Ikot Abasi Community.”
BFIGroup, the Nigerian-American consortium that emerged the preferred bidder for ALSCON in 2004, but was disqualified in controversial circumstances by the BPE, had also claimed in September that it traced a steel oil tank belonging to the plant to the neighbouring Ibom Power Company (IPC).
But a spokesman for UC RUSAL, Tatiyana Smirnova, in a response to PREMIUM TIMES enquiries on the allegation, dismissed the report, saying: “The information is false and does not correspond to reality.”
“No illegal stripping or removal of a 50,000 Litres Transformer oil Drain Tank from the ALSCON’s premise has occurred. ALSCON is the owner of the 50,000 Litres Cylinder Steel Tank (Transformer oil Drain Tank),” she said.
Mrs. Smirnova said “In compliance with the request for assistance from Ibom Power Company, ALSCON has allowed Ibom Power Company to temporary borrow the Steel Tank in accordance with the terms and conditions of Guarantee Letter signed by parties.
“Additionally, Ibom Power Company is responsible for the loading and transportation of the Steel Tank to and from Ibom Power site at Ikot Abasi under the strict supervision of ALSCON personnel.”
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