…Complex to house 15,000 shops
…To produce 1,500 different garments daily
Ben Eguzozie, in Port Harcourt
The move to get Aba, Nigeria’s south-eastern commercial city noted for small and medium-scale creative leather and garments products, and fabrication of industrial tools, as an organized industrial city began with Governor Okezie Ikpeazu breaking the ground for a complex that would constitute the Aba leather and garments industrial clusters.
The multi-million-naira industrial complex would house at least 15,000 shops producing different types of leather, while the garments section would produce 1,500 garments of different kinds daily.
The clusters are sited along with Enyimba City Government Industry at Umunneato, Umukalika in Obingwa local council of Abia State.
Other facilities are: fire service station, police station, banks, clinics, public conveniences, CCTV cameras, standby power supply system, among others.
Manufacturers of the leather products group under the leather products manufacturers association (LEPMAAS) in Aba, with some 110,000 shoemakers and 50,000 garment makers
Late last year, they rejigged their group to face the new business climate forced on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Aba shoe industry is worth more than N130 billion, with the operators producing a minimum of 1 million shoes weekly. Recently the state government brought in modern shoemaking machines to the area.
Production of shoes over the years in Aba is undertaken mainly by manual labour, using crudely fabricated machines, but greeted with a soaring demand across the West and Central African regions. The Aba shoe industry has been on business boom in recent years as buyers come from countries such as The Gambia, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo, Cameroun, up to Niger and Chad.
Governor Ikpeazu said the Aba Leather and Garment Industrial Cluster is being executed in partnership with Total Value Integrated Services Nigeria Ltd, slated to come on stream before 2023.
He noted that Aba constitutes a major contributor to Nigeria’s leather and garment production, hence the need to provide the needed ambience for development of the “can do spirit of the artisans.”
He said strategy since 2015 had been to deploy the advantages available in the economies of scale provided by Aba artisans to scale up their manufacturing capacity.
He directed the contractor to work in line with the specifications, ensuring to create a sustainable ecosystem to manage storm water in the industrial clusters area.
The Abia Governor urged members of the host communities to continue to co-operate so that the project would be realized accordingly; lauding them that, at last the state government was providing a befitting place for leather and garment sub-sector artisans. He assured that his administration would provide everything needed to ensure that artisans in the State occupy their rightful place in the scheme of things.
The journey to build a befitting place for Aba’s leather and garments manufacturers began in 2006, but foundation laying ceremony is only coming 15 years after.
The state government believes the artisans would leverage on the industrial clusters to promote made in Aba products.
Chris Simon of Total Value Integrated Services, the project developers, said the leather and garment cluster would accommodate leather and garment artisans in Ariaria Market and other parts of the state. He described the project which is under public, private partnership as first of its kind in the state.