•BY AKPAN EDEM in Calabar•
The quest by the incumbent government of Cross River State led by Professor Ben Ayade to industrialise the state appears to be paying off with the commencement of production by the state toothpick factory.
The factory, which is one of the numerous industrial concerns being promoted by the state government, is located at Ekuri in Yakurr local government area in the central senatorial district of the state.
Christened Paradise toothpick, the factory will produce at least 20 tones of toothpick daily and is also expected to source 100 per cent of its materials locally through the local bamboo sticks, which are predominant in the community.
This will alleviate the increasing rate of unemployment in the area as well as add value to the lives of the inhabitants in particular and the state in general.
Speaking on the prospects of the factory and its expected benefits to the people of the state, the Managing Director of the factory, Steve Takim said the importance of the factory to the economy of the state as well as its magnanimity cannot be overemphasised.
He maintained that the products from the factory are already in the market and the factory has a solid management base that will stand the test of time in order to sustain the vision of the government to open up the economy of the state through industrialisation.
“The sustainability of the project cannot be over emphasis. Indeed as you can see, we’re in the market, our products are now everywhere ahead of time – an indication to show that we’re serious to keep the factory afloat.
“The management team put in place by the government is made of experience and season professionals. So the conception of whether is another political hype where the government may want to score a cheap political point cannot be said to be found with us.
“Our Staff welfare is our priority and are highly paid like any other manufacturing company in the country and salaries are paid on due time up to date.
“The project is sustainable also because our raw materials are highly available and is sourced locally within the catchment area. Above all, the overwhelming support of government is all an indication of the sustainability of the company”, he said.
Speaking further, he said a number of youths are already in the workforce of the company and it is expected to reduce the rate of capital flight that leaves the state to China in the name of importation of toothpicks.
“The factory is a leading employer of labour as many youths have been engaged. Already the impact is been felt with the employment of over 30 youths, mostly graduate who are doing well. The economy of the state is been boosted and that of the country at large.
“The capital flight use before for importation of toothpick from China now remains with us. That also is an impact which helps to boost the nation’s economy”, he said.
He said the vision behind the establishment of the factory is not just to serve the needs of the state but the nation and beyond through products from the factory, which according to him meets, the highest possible standard and can compete with its kind around the world.
“The product will be able to serve the entire nation, adding that the quality is at its best with a world standard. When you talk about factory size, yes, it is large, however, to serve other African countries we need to install more production line and plans are on the way. But for now, our production line is targeted with the country since we have the biggest population in the continent.
“Our quality is none to compare with, that is why with our entrance into the market, and we have distributors all over the country. We strictly observe ISO standard in manufacturing our products”, Takim said.