…Donated 500KVA transformer, 100 electric poles, health centre, borehole, others.
By Charles Segun Adegbite
An Indian company, Everest Metal Nigeria Ltd (EMNL), organized an epoch-making event last Wednesday, which residents of Ipetoro and Oruku communities in Sagamu South Local Council Development Area of Ogun State, would not forget in a hurry.
It was the day the Managing Director, Mr Vikas Das, literally took the people out of darkness and improved their standards of living, through the commissioning of a 500KVA transformer and electrification of the two communities, which the company sponsored alone. This included the provision of 100 electric poles, wires and cables, and the installation.
For having access to electricity for the first time, in this 21st Century, the joy of the people knew no bounds. To them, it was a great relief and a sign of getting out of darkness and witnessing the beginning of progress in life.
While narrating the ordeal of the people in the communities before the intervention of Everest Metal, the spokesman for the two communities, Pastor Chukodi Rufus, said a friend who visited the place in 2018, had told him it would take between 18 to 25years for the communities to really experience progress.
Reasons? Until the intervention of this company , it was like living in hell in these two communities, which hosted many companies that are located along the Sagamu-Ikorodu Road, in Ogijo environs, near Ikorodu, Lagos State.
THE PEOPLE’S CHALLENGES
There was no single motorable road outside the Sagamu-Ikorodu highway, which is even a major source of traumatic experience for those who ply it. Neither was there a health centre nor a borehole for drinkable water. The basic amenities that people living in this age are expected to have, were not made available to these people.
To worsen their conditions were environmental pollution going on there, through various emissions from the companies around there. The poisonous contaminants have endangered the lives of many people, causing some health crises that had led to public outcry and advocacy for government intervention.
ENVIRONMENTAL CRISIS & SOLUTIONS
It was this advocacy by an NGO, Sustainable Research and Action for Environmental Development (SRADEV) Nigeria, that got the attention and sympathy of the Managing Director of Everest Metal, Mr Vikas Chandra Das.
As if following the Biblical injunction that says: “Thou shall not follow a multitude to do evil…” Exodus 23:2) or being conscious of the Law of Karma, the MD decided to single himself and his organisation out, by showing that the company cares for the wellbeing of the people and the environment.
Mr Das consequently held series of stakeholders meetings with the communities’ leaders, both to get what they needed and reach an agreement with them. This was to enable him provide those things which government have failed to do, but which the people were yearning for desperately.
To this end, the company sponsored the drilling of the borehole in late 2018. It as well embarked on grading of road; and thereafter built a Community Health Centre, for the people.
On Sunday, October 20, it carried out free medical services, by providing free drugs, free medical services at the health centre, for people in the two communities.
Speaking on the cost implications, Mr Das said, “It has cost a lot of money. It has cost more than N10million to grade the road, do the electrification;buying the wire and cable, the transformer, building health center.” He noted emphatically.
COMMISSIONING OF 500KVA TRANSFORMER
To crown it all, Mr Das added glamour to the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program with the commissioning ceremony of that transformer and the electrification project to get the residents out of darkness.
At the commissioning ceremony were: Alhaji Jamiu Yekinni (Assistant Chief Executive Officer) who represented the Head of Local Government Administration of Sagamu South Local Council Development Area(LCDA). The Ologijo of Ogijo, HRM Oba Kazeem Olanipekun Gbadamosi, Chief Soyomade of Ikorodu, the Baale(Community Head) of Ipetoro, Chief Mojeed Olanipekun, and his Oruku counterpart, Chief Kamoru Olabinjo. The Lisa of Ogijo, spokesman for the two communities, Pastor Chukodi Rufus, members of the Everest Metal Management Team: Pastor Enoch Adebayo Akinde(Human Resources Manager), Mr Naresh Gupta (Business Development Manager), Aluminum Plant Manager and another staff member. The Youth Leader and Women Leader of the two communities were also there.
The monarch of Ogijo, under whose kingdom the Communities are, Oba Gbadamosi, while commissioning the transformer, expressed how impressed and grateful he was.
“For one company to have donated 500KVA Transformers and 100 electric poles, that’s millions of Naira. I know another company we’ve spoken to many times on this type of things which have not done anything up till now. So, I really appreciate what you have done,” Oba Gbadamosi said in his remarks.
The Executive Director, SRADev Nigeria, Dr Leslie Adogame disclosed at the commissioning that the Everest Metal has proved itself as a distinguished company by listening to the complains from the people and doing the right thing at the right time.
“We approached this company in September last year, the MD, Mr Vikas welcomed us and in January this year we signed an agreement on the need to bring down the level of pollution.
“In less than a year Mr Vikas Das has fulfilled his promise. He invited us into his factory to see what they have done so far in area of environmental management. We invited the officials of National Environmental Standards and Regulations Enforcement Agency, NESREA , and they came from Abuja to come and see the facilities.”
He applauded the MD and the company for walking the talk and being people and environmental friendly. He also gave kudos to the spokesman for the two communities, Pastor Rufus for being very honest, uncompromising and committed to the struggle.
The HR Manager, Pastor Akinde,while welcoming guests to the ceremony, disclosed that the company has kept 100% of the promise made and agreements reached in their meetings with leaders of the two communities. And it has even done more than they requested for.
Responding, Mr Das noted that the purchase of cables and wires, and the installation were not part of the agreement, but he just decided to purchase the items out of his own volition to hasten the electrification process.
The Representative of the Head of Sagamu South LCDA, Alhaji Yekinni, commended the NGO for its intervention, which he said has helped to build good relationship between the communities and the company.
The Baale of Ipetoro and that of Oruku, Chief Olabinjo, joyfully expressed satisfaction over the projects. They made it clear that their communities will soon begin to witness true development and rapid progress.
Earlier, Mr Das had disclosed to journalists at the facility site, that the polluted water that used to flow out of his company had been stopped via the installation of Effluent Treatment Plant (ETP) and Aeration Thank inside the factory, where the polluted water flow into for treatment.
He said the company would continue to do things that will further enhance the relationship between him and the communities.
QUALITY PRODUCTS (SON/ISO Approved )
Everest Metal doesn’t undermine the operation of its quality control unit because of the premium it places on high quality products. To this end it ensures that the Quality Control Office does not compromise its operation.
Mr Das made it clear that the company will continue to maintain the production of high quality products it is known for at the international market.
The major challenges confronting the company are incessant power outage in the country and bad roads, which make the cost of production to be too high compared with foreign countries they compete with, where there are no such challenges.
Mr Das said if the electricity and road challenges are addressed it would help them to be at a competitive advantage with their foreign competitors, “because there is no any automobile company which can buy our products here in Nigeria. So we have to depend on international markets for our products to be sold.
“Basically we’re supplying to Toyota Company in Japan. We refine the aluminum, according to the specifications of our buyers,” Das added.
He pointed out that although government is constructing road from Ikorodu to Ogijo, the conditions of the Ogijo-Sagamu road is worrisome, because of the traumatic experience people have while plying the road.
According to him, the raw materials they use, metal scrap are locally sourced across the country. Poor conditions of the roads in many parts of the country makes cost of transportation to be too high.
The company which started about 12 years ago is improving constantly. Parts of it is the corporate social responsibility (CSR) projects it embarked on between last year and now which have gulped over N10million just to ensure people in the community where they operate have a better standard of living.