...Seeks Obiano's Intervention on Bad Road to Company
By Michael-Jude Nwolisa and Mercy Hill
Faced with bad roads and lack of electric power which are crippling his company, an industrialist, Mr Simon Maduekwe, has sent a distress call to the Anambra State Government to save his investment from collapse.
Maduekwe, the MD/CEO of OneCoo Agro Products Limited, Azia in Ihiala Local Government Area, who made the call in a chat with Fides in Azia, said he established the company in response to the call by the Anambra State Government for her indigenes to think home in their business investments, under what he described as the “Akuluo Uno - Think Home Initiative”.
OneCoo Agro Products Limited, a multi million Naira agricultural manufacturing enterprise, Fides learnt, was established by Mr. Maduekwe, a U.K based business man. The giant manufacturing plant situated at Ekwekekwe Land, Ogbuamuma Village, Azia in Ihiala L. G. A of Anambra State, is now facing severe challenges that if not solved might cause the company to fold up and these include lack of access roads and power.
The production plant which sits on a massive stretch of land in the Ogbuamuma Village, mechanically produces palm oil, and animal feeds. It also processes palm kernel oil, cassava chips, and garri. The company also has a section constructed for pig rearing and is
expecting the first batch of piglets soon.
The parts of the large expanse of land not used for production have been turned into cassava farms and palm plantations. But Maduekwe expressed optimism that in three years, the company would be sufficiently self dependent by producing its own palm fruits for palm oil production and cassava for garri production.
Speaking to Fides in an interview at the factory, Mr. Maduekwe explained that he was moved to relocate to Anambra from the United Kingdom, as a result of the Akuluo Uno Initiative, coupled with his ardent desire to help the less privileged by way of providing healthy agricultural products at subsidised rates and reducing unemployment among youths.
He disclosed that at full capacity, the palm oil production facility can handle 1 ton of palm fruits per hour, in a completely mechanised processing system, from start to finish.
The C. E. O of OneCoo disclosed that the business was commissioned on 17th August, 2018, in a well attended ceremony, with some government officials present.
He regretted however that he was yet to reap any profits from the business since its inception as a result of continually pumping in money for the business to stay afloat.
He however believed that the future was bright for the business which, he disclosed, currently had 12 members of staff under its payroll.
Speaking on current challenges his business faced, he lamented the lack of electric power, disclosing that his business facility was not yet connected to any power sources, forcing him to spend huge sums of money on diesel, just to power the machines. He said that alone gulped a large chunk of his business income.
On further enquiry, Fides learnt that the whole community of Azia has been facing the same power challenge. It was gathered that for the past six years, the Azia Community, where Mr. Maduekwe established his business, has not enjoyed electrical power.
Maduekwe, who also complained of lack of access roads, appealed to the government to come to their aid, noting that his business could not achieve its vision without stable power supply.
Fides gathered that the only road leading to the manufacturing plant was in very deplorable condition, prompting Mr. Maduekwe to hire local contractors to construct drainages in an attempt to salvage the road.
'Every time our haulage truck tries to bring in raw materials for production, or goes to deliver our finished products, it ends at the mechanic workshop. It is really costing us a lot to maintain the truck, due to the damaging effects of the bad roads,' he lamented.
Mr. Maduekwe expressed gratitude to the President General of Azia Community, Chief Ken Maduakor, for his immense support towards making the roads accessible. He however called on the state government to assist them with a good road network, noting that he had yet to receive any help from the government since the inception of the business.
For his part, the president general of Azia Community pledged his support to OneCoo Agro Products Limited, noting that he was aware of the challenges the company faced. He promised to continue to render his help when needed.
In an interview with Fides, one of the workers in the company, Mr. Chidoluomundu Ugochukwu, who also hails from Azia, expressed joy for the amazing employment opportunities brought to them by OneCoo Limited. He described it as a great source of development for the entire community and expressed optimism that the company would conquer its present challenges and soar higher.