Have you been to Epe Boatyard recently?.Have you also been to Epe plywood company?.If no, please go and see what have become of the two once great companies! .
It is unfortunate that these two giant companies established by the late Obafemi Awolowo and Alhaji Lateef Jakande in Lagos state had been abandoned for over 25years.
The once famous moribund Epe plywood factory’s environment is filthy while some areas have developed heavy moulds. The compound have been taken over by overgrown weeds .
At the gate one could see the rustic iron gate of the Epe Plywood company that speaks volumes as four haggard looking security officers guarding the company are bitter, they confided in this reporter that they had been there working for over 24years, with their delayed their salaries from Ibadan , the head office .
” We are being owed some months’ salaries and please publish our predicament but don’t mentioned our names”, one of them pleaded.
Seeing the multi – million naira worth of machines wasting away could melt one’s heart and open litany of questions on government’s management in business activities.
Inside the premises are abandoned and rusty engines like sawing machines, lifting machines , cutting machines, smoothing machines and many others .The rusty and weather – beaten machines exposed to the sun and rain would bring endless litany of complaints about the abandoned company.The company that had been producing wood for chairs , tables and doors and other furniture works cannot even produce for itself again!
Epe Plywood Industries Limited was established in 1965 and jointly owned by Odu’a Investment Company who owned 91 . 2 per cent and the Bank of Industry which had 8.8 per cent .The industry was into saw mill business producing furniture, veneer , flush doors .It was a major wood processing company established in 1965 for the production of plywood, flush doors, veneer and furniture. Many of Nigeria neighboring countries like Ghana, Cote D’ voire ,Gambia Sierra Leone among others patronized the company.
There is no adjectives that would be fit to describe the condition of the once highly rated Boatyard in the town of Epe which Lagos state was proud to have when it started but now opposite is the case!
At Epe boatyard are different sizes and shapes of abandoned , unfinished and rotting boats made of fibre and wood. In fact there is a very big boat that one could be tempted to call it the Biblical Ark of Noah!. In the boatyard are also carcasses of vehicles that have been abandoned and rustic in the garage begging for evacuation!.
The environment is filthy , an eyesore , irritating and disgusting !. It is unbelievable that the Epe Boatyard has no gate, no security. All the vehicles in the compound have become rusty .A Volkswagen Kombi Bus parked in the compound believed to belong to the company has been turned to a dunghill where dirts are deposited and now used to dry rugs ;and wet clothes are spread on to dry.
In the compound are unused boats, boats under construction and decaying wooden boats left outside the compound begging for attention .The yard is begging for attention. The fibre section of the boatyard industry have been abandoned while reptiles have turned it to their homes as one could see them running around as if competing in a race .The environment is bushy , this shows that no one comes there to cut the grass.
The fibre section is empty while about three fibre – made boats under construction could be seen .One could still see some fibre materials wasting here too.
As for the plank boat- making section which is so big and reminds one of the Noah’s Ark with other unfinished boats that are under construction in the yard. All these are wearing and wasting away .
One could see about six rooms possibly this was one of the company’s quarters which had been taken over by foreigners (Togolese) as the three women met there claimed they were living there .When questioned the women could not explain how they got there for they confessed that they are only living there on their own.The building is also in a pitiable condition as some parts of it has become dilapidated.
Speaking about Plywood industry, Mr. Oyeyemi Ajayi described the company as a once thriving company that was the most busy and employer of over 70per cent of local workers in Lagos .He said ” we all remember how this Plywood industry was thriving then.People from all walks of life would come here to sell their logwoods to the company while the sea route was always busy as all canoes and ships would come to berth here and offload logs of wood”.
Mr.Samuel Abayomi Adeeko could not control his tears as he cried ” this place is enough to make someone weep.I cannot believe what I am seeing and I am sure Lagos State government is not aware of this place. How will this place that was flourishing in those days become a junkyard?.I am pained.”
Speaking about the two industries , Mr.Aderounmu Agbomeji a native , and also an expert in Transportation lamented over the boatyard he said ” this is part of Transportation business that can be generating revenue for Lagos, unfortunately it has been abandoned”, he went further to explain what could have been responsible ,” I believe it is the fault of some people who have no idea about the business in the past government. The waterways would be highly useful and beneficial”.
An old man in his 80s , who begged for anonymity blamed corruption and poor power supply as the main factors for the collapse of the mighty industry. According to him , managers, supervisors and workers are part of those who killed the industry. He explained “that companies would produce but individuals would pocket the money, others too would sell the products at ridiculous prizes and it got to a point where individuals of the company turned themselves to Alpha and Omega of the companies as each and everyone became contractor , stealing and looting the companies.
“They started dealing directly with customers outside the company. They would bring trucks at night, load them and discharge. But the money was never remitted to the company. Also, there was no constant power supply to aid production,” he said. The source added that the Plywood industry alone is enough to make Epe an enviable town in Lagos State, “but we have docile and corrupt leaders, who are rather selfish and greedy.”
The Oloja of Epe , Oba Kamorudeen Animashaun decried the situation of the two companies that had provided jobs for the natives and non natives .The monarch said “these two giant industries provide employment not only for the indigenes but also for non indigenes , it is unfortunate seeing these companies lying like this ,I pray our son , the Lagos state governor Akinwumi Ambode to help us revive it.The boatyard was where they were constructing boats of all kinds like flying boat, speed boat and this is water transportation where we can transport our containers and decongest Lagos Ports and be transporting all these containers from Epe to Owerri, Kano, Kaduna .This is a lucrative business which had been abandoned years ago”.
Engineer Agbomeji an expert in Transportation advised the Lagos state Government to quickly come and resuscitate the two giant companies before it is too late.
When will the Lagos State resuscitate these two very promising multi-million naira business that employed hundreds of both indigenes and non indigenes?
Time will tell.