The feeling was simply nostalgic. Reading about the commissioning of the first Oxygen gas plant in Abia state,located somewhere in Amapu Umunwulu ,Obingwa LGA, near Aba brought afresh memories of my first job exposure in an Industrial gas company. Although headquartered in Warri, the company’s sales outlet in Portharcourt afforded me the opportunity to hone my skill in Marketing, first as sales Representative and later as Sales Executive in charge of Portharcourt.
As a young man,in my mid twenties, who had just finished my youth service with great deal and expectations, I had taken my first job very seriously. Thus, i was able to acquire lots of hands on experiences ,particularly,on Industrial gasses and it’s dynamics. My shallow knowledge in science , nevertheless,did not deter me. In fact,at some points, in my life, I had regretted not specializing in Gas business because of my depth in Industrial Gas.I met great men like Ernest Nnagbo , Ike Mgbemena ,Okeziem Nwoko and many others in that field.
Industrial gas business is a good venture with sufficient value chain. Depending on the vision of the founder, outside Oxygen production ( medical and Industrial ), other components of gas production abound like, Acetylene, Argon, Carbon dioxide, Heluim etc. and each has potentially wide market that could benefit lots of people directly or indirectly.
For example, the vendors who own small retail outlets in the mechanic villages , distributors who buy in bulk or refill with their empty gas bottles,hospitals and health facilities that consume several bottles of medical oxygen every day , the event planners who use helium gas to inflate their Christmas balloons and lights, are all big time market prospects for the gas plant.
Essentially, what is needed to thrive in gas business is empty cylinders or gas bottles. You need lots of empty cylinders to be able to buy gas from the producers. Gas business is akin o a retailer in drinks who needs an empty bottle in exchange for filled bottles .
For Industrial gas, your trading capacity is determined by the quantity of empty gas cylinders that you have and your cash too. With your cylinder, you can either go to the company to refill gas or you drop your empty in exchange for the company’s already refilled bottle.
Back then two major producers dominated gas production in Portharcout and suburb ;Air Liquide, a French conglomerate, and Odimontag an indigenous gas plant . Later, BOC Gas , a public quoted company already based in Lagos and Warri, opened a refilling plant in PH.Today ,other gas plants, like SC Industrial Gas, have equally joined the Industrial gas producing companies.
Industrial gas dealers and consumers in and around Aba , especially the Welders, fabricators and hospitals, that solely depended on the Portharcourt gas plants for their regular Industrial and medical Oxygen supply, will now fall back on Neu – Dyx global Investment gas producing plant for their gas needs . It sure will save them time,cost and reduce inconveniences they had had encountered going to Port harcourt or anywhere else to buy their gas. I can still remember how awful it used to be with trucks and small vehicles heading through the delapidated Enugu – PH road, with their truck load of gas bottles, in search of Oxygen gas from Portharcourt. All that will soon be history.
Ostensibly, investing in Oxygen Gas production,in Abia state, is indeed timely and highly commendable . While the medical oxygen will address the pressing shortage of Oxygen in hospitals and health facilities ,the Industrial gas on the other hand will be most beneficial to Welders and fabricators that have long depended on the production plants in Portharcourt to feed their numerous clients in Abia state.
Another point of excitement is that,once again, another patriotic Abia diaspora, Dr Emeka Nwakanma,has responded to the clarion call to think home. He has joined the likes of Chiedozie Njoku of Enyimba Mall Outlets and Ngozi Ogbonna- Erondu to divest their resources to help develop Abia state.
No doubt the investments will be of shared value and benefit . From the investor, who surely would harvest good returns on his investment,to the government and the people who reap the IGR proceeds in addition to the employment of her citizens. Not to forget the end users like the welders ,fabricators and hospitals who would certainly enjoy some rebate for the close proximity they will now enjoy.
Similarly, business persons,like the gas vendors or retailers who ply their trades at Mechanic villages and other outlets, and the transporters and wheelbarrow pushers ,will all share profitably from the investment. Overall , it’s a welcome development .
It’s equally instructive that the efforts of the Ikpeazu’s government in rebuilding Abia is indeed gaining traction.A fair minded critic would agree that, but for Ikpeazu’s infrastructural face lift in Abia state and Aba in particular, there would not have been an Industrial or Medical Oxygen production plant. Not now and not so soon.
Albeit late,however, it’s still better than never.
Kennedy Onyenma writes from Umuahia