in Port Harcourt
Nigeria’s largest soft drink producer, the Nigerian Bottling Company (NBC) is expanding its operations in Port Harcourt, one of the nation’s major oil hubs, with a new bottling plant set to cover a land area measuring some 28,000 square metres.
Segun Apata, chairman of the board of directors of the NBC, while leading a team of top executives of the bottling firm to Port Harcourt said that the company was “working towards building a mega plant in Port Harcourt.”
With 11 plants in Nigeria (which includes Port Harcourt), the NBC has been operating the Port Harcourt plant since 1973. It is located in the bustling Trans-Amadi industrial area of the oil city.
The NBC chairman said the new plant would be a hub for the south-south zone, of which Port Harcourt is its leading city, with a population of over two million people.
Apata, while speaking with Rivers state governor Nyesom Wike, informed that the new bottling plant would provide new jobs across the board.
“We want to double our production to 75 million-unit cases,” he said.
For this, the NBC chairman appealed to Wike to approve a governor’s consent for a parcel of land the company plans to acquire for the building of the new bottling plant.
The governor expressed happiness that the NBC was expanding its operations in Rivers State, especially at a time the state is in dire need of creating new jobs to absorb its teeming population most whom were laid off following massive job losses in the plummeted oil industry.
“This expansion will create more employment and internally generated revenue. This state is peaceful for investments,” Wike said.
He then assured the NBC team that the documents for the land acquired by the soft drinks bottling firm for their expansion will be granted by his administration.
He urged the NBC not to behave like some other multinational companies operating in the state, whom he described as constituting part of the crisis bedevilling the Niger Delta region by the refusal of the multi-nationals to encourage host communities with key appointments.
“I urge the multi-nationals and the NBC to encourage Rivers people through local content participation. Part of the crisis in the Niger Delta is that some companies relegate the people of the area in the allocation of management positions,” Wike said.
He said the ugly situation should be checked to stop avoidable conflicts as noticed in the relationship between Shell and some host communities.