For more than seven years, ANAMMCO, a vehicle assembly facility inaugurated in 1980 by the Federal Government in partnership with Mercedes Benz, was shut down.
This was due to lack of activity as a result of economic instability, unavailability of forex and lack of patronage, among others.
Life became unbearable for all members of staff of the Enugu-based company, and they were laid off.
Like ANAMMCO in Enugu, activities at the Onne Port Complex situated on the Bonny River Estuary along Ogu Creek in Rivers State, was declining due to lack of patronage.
ANAMMCO management heaved a sigh of relief when it entered into an agreement with the Transit Support Services (TSS), a subsidiary of ABC Transport PLC, to manufacture trucks.
TSS is representing China’s leading truck manufacturer, Shacman Trucks.
But its biggest benefactor is the Dangote Group, which has so far injected over N63 billion into the assembly plant.
Speaking after a tour of the expansive ANAMMCO plant which was filled with Dangote trucks undergoing semi-knocked down (SKD) production, TSS Chairman Mr. Frank Nneji said if not for Dangote’s magnanimity and his commitment to empowering local manufacturers, the ANAMMCO plant would have remained perpetually moribund.
According to him, the skeletal activity that started with an agreement with Shacman group has blossomed to full step production with the coming of Dangote Group’s investment in the plant.
The agreement, signed in 2016, has led to the recall of workers at the plant.
“With the recall of over 300 ANAMMCO staff and 15 expatriates, the factory that was in a comatose state is now bubbling with life, courtesy of Dangote Group support to the plant. We initially signed an agreement for the first 500 units of trucks,” Nneji said.
Leading automobile reporters round the huge plant built over 30 years ago, Nneji said: “What you are seeing in the plant today is with the full support of Dangote Group. This is to correct the impression by many that Dangote Group is ignoring the Eastern part of the country in its investment programme. We are a franchise holder of China’s number truck marker, Shacman. We started local assembly five years ago at a time Dangote Group was looking for locally assembled trucks for its businesses across the country.”
A selfless Nneji said after recalling all ANAMMCO staff back to work, he decided that the shipment of the components for the trucks should arrive at the country through the Onne Port in Rivers State.
This has also extended Dangote Group’s investment into the Southsouth part of the country.
Nneji said no less than 400,000 jobs have been created through that singular effort.
“You can imagine the multiplier effects it would have on the nation’s economy if other wealthy Nigerians decided to invest into something like this,” he said.
Besides the assemblage of the trucks, Nneji said the plant was serving as a training school for students interested in Mechatronics engineering.
“The area around the plant is fast becoming an automobile cluster because Enugu is a motor city. We have local suppliers too as well as our own in-house workers. This has provided training on how to produce the trucks with the well-experienced staff we recruited. The company produces over 200 trucks monthly comprising three different models, with local content of about 22 per cent. It is capable of increasing its production if there is a demand for such,” he said.
Apart from assembling the truck at the plant, the TSS boss said the chassis numbers are locally generated and printed on the truck engine, adding that the brand Shacman has about 15 models of the truck but only three models are being produced at the plant at the moment.
“What this initial capacity surge did was to ensure that all the staff of ANAMMCO who had been at home had to come back to work. Some local suppliers, lubricants, electrolytes and the rest of them also had to come back to doing business. And it goes even further than that because we are in Enugu, we used the Onne Port to bring in these goods. You know many people are complaining that Onne Port is moribund, no good is coming. Of course, we directed all the containers there and from 2016 up till now courtesy of Dangote, the Onne Port has handled more than 3000 containers coming to this place,” he stated.
Nneji added that 90 per cent of trucks produced at ANAMMCO plant were for Dangote.
“According to the National Automotive Policy, Enugu and Nnewi have been designated as the automotive centre for the Southeast in this axis. This is because of the stay of ANAMMCO over a period. They have acquired a lot of technical capacity. There is also a training school that produces technicians, training young school leavers here.
“So this is what we are doing here. This place is busy producing quality trucks with Dangote as the largest single patron. Totally here, we have done 3,500 units for Dangote. Additionally, the trucks used at the refinery are also Shacman trucks. Because of the quality of Shacman trucks, Dangote also patronises that for the refinery,” he said.
Dangote Group Corporate Communications General Manager Mr Sunday Esan, said the partnership with TSS would last for a long time as the group continues to expand across its various business segments.
Esan added that as the Dangote refinery comes on stream, the group would require more trucks hence the sustained relationship with TSS/ANAMMCO.
According to him, the massive investment in the Southeast is contrary to the assumption that Alhaji Aliko Dangote, the President/Chief Executive Officer of Dangote Group is not patronising local manufacturers.
“This is why he agreed we should come and see how ANAMMCO plant has come alive, the impact he has made in the country and the employment this patronage has generated,” he said.