The Executive Director, Agiville Industries, Mr. Victor Agidi, a manufacturer of plastic environmental waste bins, in this interview with Nume Ekeghe urged the federal government to patronise locally made goods. Excerpts:
Could you tell us about your firm?
Agiville industry is a plastic production company, mainly producing plastic sanitary wear. We produce the 240 litre and 120 litres waste bin with wheels used for households, commercial buildings and industries. We have a state-of-the-art production line and our injection moulding machines are one of the most modern available anywhere in the world. And we use the same equipment being used in Germany and other western countries to produce waste bins of international standard. So the standards of products we have are the exact same standards that they have in Europe. Our products are very necessary for environmental sanitation management. Our products are critical for performing the very first stage of environmental sanitation in the areas of collection and safe storage of refuse. It is very important that refuse emanating from our buildings, towns and cities are collected and stored effectively in plastic waste bins before local waste collectors are ready to pick them up. Our products are important because they help avert a number of health risks that are reduced when we safely enclose and cover refuse outside our buildings by blocking access to rodents, insect flies and pests; communities, towns that use these waste bins are reduced to the barest minimum the spread of large number of diseases.
Other benefits of our waste bins is that with the frigid lids, our waste bins also contain bad odour of refuse and stops it from spreading throughout the community. It also beautifies the environment and makes our communities more habitable.
How do your bins aide refuse and collecting trucks?
Our plastic bins are equipped with wheels made for quick and easy controlled evacuation of refuse from the community. With our waste bins, refuse collectors are able to develop a quick turnaround time due to the mobility of our waste bins. Refuse trucks are able to deal with individual properties within seconds rather than several minutes.
How are you able to source for raw materials?
We source our raw materials mainly from local sources. The raw materials are made from companies and particularly one company in Port Harcourt -Indorama and there are also importers who bring in these raw materials as well. But we mostly get our raw materials from the ones who produce here in Nigeria.
In this industry, what are the major challenges?
Well, the government has done its part by prohibiting the importation of plastic sanitary wears and other plastic products. However, it needs to do a lot more because these products are still coming in to the country in large numbers. And even some government agencies unwittingly buy these prohibited imported products.
Can you tell which government agencies buy these products?
Some waste management agencies and some state governments.
Are you saying some government parastatals buy these banned items?
They may not know the products they are buying are banned. Other challenges we face doing business in Nigeria, are provision of power, security, provision of water and other amenities.
Given all these challenges mentioned, what exactly do you think government can do to encourage manufacturers in this sector?
Government needs to really step up its operations at the ports to make sure that items on the prohibition list do not actually enter into the country. They need to make sure customs do their jobs so that these products do not flood the markets. And also, they need to look at consciously patronising local producers of plastic sanitary wears such as the ones we produce.
You said you source your main raw materials from Nigeria. Are there some you need to import and if so, is it difficult to source for foreign exchange from the banks?
We used to import the tyres and the axel for our waste bins from oversees in the past. However, since the foreign exchange scarcity, we found other ways of sourcing the materials locally. We imported moulds for the tyres and now we produce the axils and the tyres locally. So basically, 97 per cent of our products raw materials are sourced locally. The other three per cent is a minuscule product that can be brought in by air. So we just ship them every month so it is not a problem for us. It constitutes a very low cost in the production. We don’t access it through the banks; we buy the currency at the parallel market rates.
Why buy from the parallel market?
The last time we did a transaction through the banks, it took about three months so that’s why we don’t bother.
What do you want the federal government to do to enhance this sector?
We want government to consciously patronise our products. Our products are used in communities, towns and cities all over the world, that want to maintain clean and healthy environment. So we want the government to consciously patronise our products and stop the importation of plastic sanitary wears particularly plastic waste bins from abroad.