PSML appeals FG on creation of enabling environment for growth of steel, mining sector
The management of the Premium Steel and Mines Limited formerly known as Delta Steel Company, Ovwian-Aladja in Udu Local Government Area of Delta State has appealed to the federal government to grant steel companies in the country enabling environment for them to thrive.
It lamented that the recent five per cent increment on imported steel raw materials as well as high electricity tariff among others were killing the growth of the steel industry and urged the federal government to urgently intervene to save the industry from total collapse.
Speaking at a media parley on Thursday in Udu, the Deputy General Manager, Corporate Affairs, Mr. Emmanuel Etaghene debunked media reports that the PSML management was allegedly engaged in asset stripping of the multi-million naria steel plant in Delta State.
Etaghene, flanked by the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of PSML, Mr Prasanta Mishra and General Manager, Mechanical, Engr Samuel Tanno, charged members of the host communities and relevant stakeholders in the state to support PSML’s efforts in the ongoing revamping of the steel company to meet the nation’s steel needs.
He stated that many steel companies in the country were folding up owing to the huge tariff imposed on importation of raw materials for steel production in the country.
According to him, “What we are producing now, our local people can’t access it because it too expensive for them. The quality is too high. We our people need is just low carbon steel. The local market will not agree to buy at the rate we are selling because of the quality. That’s one of the constraints we are facing.
“Recently, there was five per cent increment on tariff for pellet importation. It is killing. It is just like someone strangulating us to death. You could image why many of them (Steel Companies) had to closed up. That five per cent is enough for us to keep our 500 staff. Government should look at this area and bring done the tariff and then make the business more accommodating so that more people can be employ.
“Electricity is another constraint killing the steel industry in this country. In fact, the tariff on electricity is very huge. Going through BEDC is like 100 per cent increase. What we are now looking at is the eligible customers supply to enable us gets directly from TCN. Once we get that the price will be half what we are paying now. What we are paying now is not sustainable and not economic to our business.
“Also, government should also give us (steel companies) some space. Ground rent is another one. If I tell you what we are going through on ground rent issue is terrible. What we are saying is that government should give us enabling environment so that the steel companies can thrive.
“Federal Government should give us waver for some time. At least, you are having a company of this nature; it should be nurtured to a period of five or six years with enabling environment to thrive and thereafter. There are a lot of issues hampering the growth of steel industry in this country.”
While dismissing reports that PSML was allegedly planning to pull out, Etaghene noted that PSML has invested several billion naira into the plant to ensure that the once comatosed plant was back to life and meet the steel demands of the people of Nigeria.
“The move we have taken so far is that we imported so many pellets because we want to harness the market both locally and internationally. For you to get into exportation of raw products, you need to get some necessary certification, which we are undergoing. As we speak, we have concluded our ISO and other certifications. We are just waiting for our certificates, and without it, there’s nothing you can do.
“What we discovered is that the local market is getting terrible, very competitive and if you are aware, about nine companies have closed up in Lagos. You can go and verify why they closed up. In fact, the steel companies are undergoing terrible times. But we are continuing, we don’t want to look at those that have folded up.
‘We want to be sure that our position here is kept. That’s why we keep bringing materials. We have taken a vow that we will still continue if not, what is happening in the global steel market is enough for one to back out almost immediately. What I am telling you now, you can go and verify. Go to Shagamu and some other places, all the steel company had all folded up for one reason or the other.”
On the allegation that the company was engaging in asset stripping, he said, “Well, if I own a property, and I am doing systematic replacement of those properties and someone is accusing me of stripping asset is not right. Asset is a valuable item that is available for use. If something is no longer useful, I don’t know if we can call it asset. Asset is a valuable property that must be kept either for immediate use or for future use.
“We have changed the rolling mill plants. What do you want me to do with the old ones? Selling of the old ones is what they are saying is asset stripping. We bought new generators to replace the old ones. Check the pictures if the generators were old one or is asset stripping. The generators were vandalized and cut to pieces.”
The PSML Public Affairs Manager added that the company had employed 500 persons including skilled and unskilled labour into its work force, positing that by the completion of the ongoing revamping of the plant, additional persons would be employed.
He posited that the management of PSML was committed towards resuscitating the plant back to life to improve the nation’s economy and better the lives of the immediate host communities through direct and indirect employment.