Emmanuel Ugwu, Umuahia
After lying moribund for over 40 years, the magnificent Enyimba Hotels Aba is set to undergo massive turn around following its successful takeover by the Swiss Hotels International, which would renovate and manage the hotel.
The takeover followed a deal struck by the Aba Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ACCIMA) with the Swiss Hotels International, which entails huge investment to make Enyimba a five star hotel.
The six storey edifice that stands magnificently on 14.2 hectares of land at Ogbor hill area of Aba was built during the defunct East Central State but was not operational before it was split into two states of Imo and Anambra in 1976. The hotel was given to Imo as part of its share of assets and liabilities of the mother state but the hotel remained moribund after it was inherited in 1991 by Abia state, when it was carved out from Imo.
In the course of time, the ownership of Enyimba Hotels fell to ACCIMA, which was said to have acquired it from Abia government but the chamber was unable to rehabilitate and launch it into hospitality business. The delay paved the way for hundreds of illegal occupants to take over the entire floors of the edifice thereby getting accommodation in the commercial city free of charge.
But during the formal takeover of the hotel and flag-off of the process of renovation last week , quit notices were issued to the illegal occupants that included police officers, a Pentecostal Church, traders, artisans and even white collar workers.
The Joint Venture agreement between ACCIMA and the Swiss International Hotels was signed at the event with the African representative of the Swiss firm, Dr. Wasilu Babalola , saying that the foreign firm would sink billions of naira into the project,
According to him, over 3,000 jobs comprising at least 250 direct and 2,500 indirect jobs would be created when the hotel becomes operational.
Sources at ACCIMA said that the offshore investor would renovate the hotel and run it as a purely private business while Abia government would be entitled to some financial entitlements as revenue.
At the flag-off ceremony, which featured the unveiling of the prototype of the hotel that would emerge after the renovation, Governor OkezieIkpeazu was visibly delighted expressed delight that at last Aba would fittingly host a reputable world- class hotel.
He said that “a new dawn has set in” for the commercial city, which has over the years not attracted a five star hotel in spite of the importance Enyimba city as an economic hub in the Southeast and Nigeria in general.
Ikpeazu said that the emergence of Enyimba Hotel under the management of a reputable international expert in hotel management would act as a catalyst for enhanced commercial and economic activities in Aba.
“Aba lacks a befitting five- star hotel despite the huge enterprises in the commercial city,” Ikpeazu said, pointing out that “no billionaire will like to invest in a town where he cannot spend the night but with this development today, Aba is now on a new pedestal.”
The governor pldged that his government would provide every support needed for successful and profitable take-off of Enyimba Hotel Aba, noting that the project would yield more jobs to complement efforts to tackle unemployment in the state.