The Lagos State government on Wednesday said all hands are on deck to complete the largest rice mill in Sub-Saharan Africa currently ongoing in Imota Local Council Development Area of the state within the first quarter of 2019.
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, who spoke during an extensive inspection tour of major projects in Ikorodu, Imota and Agbowa axis by members of the Lagos State Executive Council (SEC), said the project would be completed by January 2019, while the initial production would commence by February of the year.
The mill, which is of 32 metric tons per hour production capacity, is projected to facilitate the creation of over 200,000 jobs across the agricultural value chain, while it would also bring about the cultivation of 32,000 hectares of farm land to produce rice paddy, equating to an estimated 130 million Kg of processed rice per year (an equivalent of 2.6 million 50kg bags of rice).
The governor, who was represented by Adebowale Akinsanya, the Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, said the project was part of the grand policy of his administration to ensure food security and as well give a quantum leap to economic integration of the Southwest region as the land to be cultivated and rice paddy for the mill would be supplied largely by farmers from the region.
Briefing journalists along with other Exco members after being taken round the level of work done so far by Project Engineer, Gboyega Odunlami, Ambode said it was gratifying to note that the project was progressing steadily and would be delivered on schedule.
“The key take away from here is that the construction of the rice mill and the industrial park among other complementing facilities are going on as planned. The administrative building, the restaurant, fire station, power station and other facilities needed to support the park and the rice mill are all-ongoing concurrently.
“The mill is part of the food security strategy of this administration as well as Southwest integration efforts. It will be the largest rice mill not just in Nigeria but in Sub Saharan Africa.
“Already, we have commitment from the contractors working on the project that it would be delivered by January 2019 and the rice mill that would be the food engine of the Southwest will be in production by February,” the governor said.
At the Imota Regional Food Stuff Market, where the present Mile 12 Market and other markets within the axis would be relocated, the governor said the first phase of the project, which would accommodate about 1,500 shops, was already at 75 per cent completion stage, while the second phase, among other facilities such as concretised roads, fire stations, drainages, sewage system, power stations, sewage treatment, 1,000 capacity car park, over 100 capacity trailer park, bus layby, among others would all be delivered before the end of the year.
The governor said adequate provisions had been made in the new market to avoid the challenges which the present Mile 12 Market and other markets in the area constituted to the environment, saying at least 70 metres of buffer zone had been created between the proposed Ikorodu-Itoikin-Epe road expansion project and the market to prevent interface.
While inspecting the 2.7kilometre Agbowa-Timberville Road under construction and the Agbowa Timberville Sawmill, where the present day Okobaba Sawmill in Ebute Metta would be relocated, Rotimi Ogunleye, the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, said the project was at the final completion stage with few outstanding facilities.
“The main project of the Agbowa Timberville Sawmill is about 250 shops out of which over 200 have been completed and the project is sitting on 150 hectares. The various infrastructure – the road networks, the shops, sheds and all that have been put in place.
“The two outstanding areas for us to move the traders from Okobaba to this place are the short road that leads to the Timberville from Agbowa, which is swampy in some areas and we have to do decompile and then the second outstanding area is the boom area which is the place where the timber merchant will anchor their logs.
“We have spoken with the traders and they are very much ready to come here. Apart from the shops, we have the halls for them to do their meetings; we have conveniences, cafeteria, 24/7 power supply, among others so that they can do their business in a more conducive and friendly environment, and then we can have the opportunity of regenerating the present Okobaba which is within the city,” he said.
Also, while conducting members of the State Executive Council (SEC) round the Odo Onosa/Ayandelu Housing Scheme, Commissioner for Housing, Gbolahan Lawal, said the project had already been incorporated into the rent-to-own housing policy of the present administration where people would just pay five per cent of the total amount and spread the rest over 10 years.
Responding on behalf of the community, Oba of Odo Ayandelu Kingdom in Ikosi-Ejirin, Oba Ganiu Aderibigbe recalled how he approached the governor during a town hall meeting held at Ajelogo on the need to revisit the project, saying the work done so far was a practical example of the fact that the governor was a listening governor, adding that the project would boost economic activities in the axis.