Nigeria’s aspiration for an improved road infrastructure has received a boost with the commissioning a N2.2 billion Bitumen Storage Plant by a French company – Ringardas Nigeria Limited (RNL).
The new bitumen storage plant, described by industry experts as one of the biggest in Africa, was commissioned last week by Babatunde Fashola, minister of power, work and housing.
The minister, represented at the occasion by a director in the ministry, Funsho Adebiyi, described the establishment of the plant as a significant milestone in Nigeria’s bid to having good road network.
The plant, situated in Kwali area of the Federal Capital, Abuja, is said to have been built from the N3.5 billion new capital injected into the company by it French owner – RUBIS Energie, in the last three years.
In his welcome address, Jean-Jacques Jung, managing director of RNL, said the company’s investment in the plant was a mark of its commitment to Nigeria’s economic development.
Jean-Jacques said building the plant was the first major investment made by the company since it was incorporated as a private limited liability company in the country on November 22, 2005.
He noted that for the company to be able to make such investment, despite the huge challenges it experienced in 2015 and 2016 operational year was a thing of joy.
“In spite of these challenges, Ringardas has remained resilient, and with the support of its shareholders, particularly RUBIS Energie, which was able to inject additional new capital which amounted to about 200 percent above its initial holding in the company.
“In order to overcome the challenges, the company embarked on a restructuring which led to the reduction of its expatriate workers from 46 to 6. The company has also been able to contribute to the government’s efforts to create employment by providing jobs to over 460 permanent employees, 98 percent of which are Nigerian.
“This is in addition to the 107 local suppliers that were engaged to supply materials and other forms of services during the period that the plant was being constructed,” he said.
He noted with delight that the entry of the company into the bitumen business in Nigeria had revolutionised the supply of the product in the country, pointing out that prior to this time, road construction projects were regularly interrupted due to shortage of bitumen in the country.
“It is on record that in spite the challenges posed by the prevailing economic situation in Nigeria in 2015 and 2016, both management of Ringardas and its shareholders ensured that the bitumen supply was not adversely affected. In other words, the supply of bitumen to road contractors never ebbed, thanks to the unabated support of our parent company.
“Ringardas was able to do this by establishing storage terminals in all the geo-political zones in the country from where bitumen was being made available to all contractors with ease. Thus, making the product readily available all over Nigeria for road construction projects.
“The company also put in place a fleet of customized trucks that deliver hot bitumen, ready to be used on delivery, to road contractors at construction sites all over the country. The innovations introduced by the company eliminated the need to re-heat bitumen supplied by the company before use, thereby saving time and energy hitherto expended by the contractors in heating the product before use.
“In doing these, we did not compromised the global best practices which we are known for, and we are prepared to continue to conducted of our Company in a manner that is socially responsible and commanding respect for its integrity,” he further said.
Giving an insight into the nature of activities of the company, Oliver Nechad, chairman of the company, said RNL also known as ASCA is owned by a French Group- RUBIS Energie, and is primarily involved in the business of importation, storage, marketing and distribution of bitumen, as well as, bituminous products and Automotive Gas Oil (AGO) across Nigeria.
In his address also at the occasion, Christian Cochet, CEO, RUBIS Energie, said the company was delighted with the construction of the storage facility, as it was in line with its global corporate vision of getting bitumen from places where they are available to areas of need.
“RUBIS is an established, French based international private limited company founded in 1990. We specialized in the downstream petroleum and chemicals sector, operating bulk liquid storage facilities (for petroleum products and chemicals) through our subsidiary, RUBIS Terminal and distribute fuels through our subsidiary, RUBIS Energie.
“Since 2000, RUBIS has expanded its presence across three regions, (Africa, Europe and the Caribbean) through direct investments and acquisitions. The Group has enjoyed strong, regular growth since 2000, driven by organic growth, new sites and acquisitions, while also constantly improving its productivity
“In 2015, we acquired Ringardas together with its sister companies in Belgium, Senegal and Togo. The intention behind acquisition of Ringardas is to further build on the success of Ringardas in Nigeria by deploying its wealth of know how, experience and resources towards improving the successes Ringardas has achieved in Nigeria over the years.
Christian commended the management, and staff of RNL for their zeal and commitment to the quick execution of the project geared at aiding road development in the country.
Delivering his address, French new Ambassador in Nigeria, Jerome Pasquies, who represented his country at the occasion, also expressed delight with the commissioning of the Plant, promising that his country would continue to encourage more French companies to invest in Nigeria.
Jerome said that the continue flow of French investment into Nigeria was an indication of the warm relationship existing between the two countries, which he is out to promote.
The ambassador said he was happy that the company was able to create jobs for Nigerians at this material time, and used the occasion to encourage more Nigerian companies to take advantage of French technical expertise in growing their businesses.
Addressing the gathering, Fashola described the opening of the plant as a milestone in Nigeria’s road development.
Fashola, who highlighted some of the recent efforts being made by the Buhari administration to address the issue of infrastructural deficit being experience across the country, said government was ready to collaborate with the company in making bitumen readily available.
In addition, the Minister disclosed that the establishment of the plant has help created a local platform for testing quality of quality of bitumen being imported into the country.
While commending the company for the establishing the plant, he however wants the management of the company to start looking at the opportunity of sourcing the company’s bitumen requirement locally.
The highlight of the commissioning ceremony was the cutting of the Ribbon done by the representative of the Ministry, after which a guarded tour of the plant by the Guests was conducted, as well as the cutting of a cake to mark the occasion.