By Theodore Opara
HAVING perfected truck assembling in its Ikeja, Lagos plant, Dangote Sinotruk West Africa Limited is now set to commence construction work on its truck cabin line next month. The cabin line is expected to be ready by next year and would take the local content level of Dangote Sinotruk vehicles to about 50 per cent when completed.
Currently building about five units of trucks on a single shift per day, Dangote Sinotruk has revealed its first of locally assembled truck in Lagos to Motoring Journalists during a media tour of the plant.
The Lagos-based plant, which the organisation said would turn over at least 10,000 truck annually to support government initiative in the automotive sector is capable of meeting the Nigeria truck needs when it starts its 24 hour shift, Group General Manager, Projects, Hikmat Thapa told the journalists. Thapa said the project is currently at its first phase, noting that the second phase, expected to begin in June would create two shifts per day of 24 hours daily operation to move the operation from SKD, Semi-Knocked Down, to CKD, Completely Knocked Down.
He noted that the plant, which currently employed about 200 staff will increase to 400 people in the next phase of the project and finally employ about 1500 Nigerians with supporting employment of 3,000 jobs. He explain that the Chinese working in the plant at the moment are helping to put the Nigerian technicians and engineers through in the plant.
Thapa further noted that the company would meet truck demand in Nigeria and further export the vehicles to meet market demand to West African region. Said he, “With the formation of the production base, not only the market demands in Nigeria can be met, but also the requirements of covering the neighbouring countries will be gradually met
“As soon as we move on to 24-hour daily operation, we will churn out between 20 and 30 trucks per day. We are starting with SKD and now waiting for the CKD parts coming at the end of the month.”
Speaking further about local content and skills transfer, the organisation was optimistic that the operation, particularly the cabin production would drive significant per cent of local content addition and provide adequate transfer of skills.
The $100 million assembly plant is a joint venture, controlled by Dangote with a leading share “of 65 per cent and Sinotruck of China has 35 per cent,” Thapa said.
Noting that the firm would assemble and produce full range of commercial vehicles covering heavy duty truck, medium truck, light truck and other semi-trailers, he said the company has detailed plan to eventually produce engines in the country.
“Through years of efforts, Dangote Sinotruk West Africa Ltd. will develop prominent advantages in market network, product, technology and quality, and establish a distinctive “cultural concept,” the organisation said.
The company is also hopeful that the initiative would provide new employment opportunities, improve local automobile technology, equipment and technology level, promote the economic development in Nigeria and play key role in developing heavy-duty truck industry in Nigeria.