The Federal Government has blamed the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine which started on February 24, as one of the reasons the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill in Kogi State, will not be completed this year as earlier promised.
The Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Olamilekan Adegbite, who disclosed this on Thursday while featuring on the weekly ministerial media briefing at the State House, Abuja, effectively ruled out the possibility of completing the beleagured 43-year mill this year, due to the effects of the war and the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic
The Minister said though President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the release of $2 million for the conduct of a technical audit of the mill as demanded by Russians before the restart of its implementation, the ongoing war means the contract will have to be terminated while the government will look for alternative technical partnerships.
“Technical audit of the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill in Kogi State is necessary to ascertain the condition of the facility before restarting the work.
“But unfortunately, just as arrangements were being made to commence the process, the Covid-19 came and put a halt to all activities causing a force majeure,” he said.
As the pandemic slowed down and economies began to pick up, Adegbite said the government moved to continue the earlier negotiations with Russia following the lockdown and procurement on, and while progress was being made, the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine war again stalled the moves.
“The problem with Ajaokuta is actually what we call force majeure. Nobody thought of the Covid-19 because the plan was deliver Ajaokuta this year 2022.
“It was through no fault of ours. We were ready to go, unfortunately, Covid became a force majeure.
“As the pandemic subsided, we were ready to go but the outbreak of the Russian-Ukraine war again stopped our plans,” he said.
Adegbite, however, announced that a Saudi Arabian group working with some Nigerians had undertaken to produce the technical audit without cost to the country.
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