When it was officially decided that, a multi-billion naira free trade zone is going to be established in Kano state, most communities at Fanisau village and its surroundings where the free trade zone will be constructed began to celebrate, but that was over 21 years ago.
However, with the commencement of works on the site, a lot of economic processes and activities began to take place which resulted to appreciation of land’s value and other facilities of economic value around the demarcated site.
Economists believed that such establishment of high economy would transform the economic strength of the communities as well as increase per capital income of the inhabitants as new business opportunities are set to emerge.
Kano Free Trade Zone is situated on 262 hectares of land at the Fanisau area of Ungogo Local Government Area of Kano, according to experts when completed the free trade zone will serve as a special economic zone where goods may be landed, handled, manufactured or reconfigured and re-exported.
The zone is seen as one of the finest federal government economic strategies that would ensure national economic viability in kick-starting a stronger economy in an internationally competitive global phenomenon.
However, it was gathered that since 1998 when the zone was established the zone was said to have been neglected and the people’s hope of establishment within their communities dashed.
For over 20 years, they waited years after years hoping that one day, their dream will come true. According to Isa Hassan Jaba a resident of the area, they have not lost hope as they waited for the right.
“We are aware that, it is a project that requires a huge sum of money that was why in 1998 when this place was established, we were so happy believing that the end of poverty in our area has come. Sadly, we waited in anticipation. Different administration came and left and we waited hoping that someday we will witness the free trade zone come to life,” said Jaba.
However, it was gathered that when the Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved over N40b for Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and with the release of part of the funds activities in the resuscitation of the zone began as erection of structures and road networks commenced a situation that resulted in jubilation by the host communities.
Similarly, records have shown that, the Kano free trade zone will have warehouses with investor’s chalets, administrative buildings and that the zone already has 32 registered investors.
Another resident Malam Yusif Isa told our reporter that, the zone has been their hope and that the return of activities on the site has rekindled their hope. According to him, more than 300 people of the area are now directly or indirectly gainfully engaged in the site.
“We have about 300 people from our community that are directly or indirectly being engaged in the site. We are so excited that what we have been hoping for years is now coming to reality. Fanisau, Jaba and its environs will in no time become a hub of business activities,” he said.
Moreover, NEPZA has disclosed that Kano free trade zone is set to begin operation in the first quarter of 2020.
Disclosing this to newsmen during a media chat in Kano NEPZA acting Managing director Engr. Terhemba Nongo stated that the over 20 year years neglected project has bounced back and that 80% of the road construction works have been completed and 70% of the three-block of chalets is also completed.
Engr. Terhemba Nongo said that equipment ordered for the zone are expected in the country this December.
He added that, the 4 mega warehouses are already completed and that 3 out of them are already rented out.
He added that, when the free trade zone begins operations, it will provide about 100, 000 direct and indirect employment which will in turn uplift the economic standard of Kano state in particular and the nation in general.
The acting MD further revealed that textile and garment industries are the primary target of the free trade zone adding that talks have already begun with one of the biggest Chinese textile company for investments opportunities aligned with the zone adding that the zone has a projection of return on investment of N1billion in the first year of its operation which he said will rise to N5 billion after 5 years.
Mr. Nongo added that, about N14 billion has been expended so far and that the zone needs about N7 billion to be fully completed, “The delay the zone has been experiencing is due to insufficient funds releases to the project, for example in 2017/2018 budget N15billion was earmarked but only N4billion was released. So far about N14 billion has been expended on the project and the project needs about N7 billion to be completed,” he said.
He further stated that the establishment of a sewage treatment plant and independent power supply as the zone requires a 15mw source of power are working to be completed before the inauguration of the free trade zone.
He explained that a 15mw power source is estimated to cost $15m, about N5bn, hence with the paucity of funds, the agency is working towards commencing the project with 5mw.
Meanwhile, efforts are geared towards marketing the zone abroad for investors to key into the project.
When fully operational, the zone will be exporting to Europe, Asia and the United States of America.
Adapted from Daily Trust