Governor Godwin Obaseki says his administration will establish the largest auto-market in Benin, the capital city of Edo state, as part of his administration’s effort to encourage technological growth in the state and Nigeria.
The governor made the disclosure when executive members of the Nigerian Automobile Technicians Association (NATA) paid him a courtesy visit in government House in Benin.
He said such auto-market, aside the fact that it would assist in the creation and assembling of motor parts, it would also help to mitigate the high current foreign exchange rate and boost Nigeria’s foreign reserve.
Gov. Obaseki added that government would through the auto market help to strengthen and regulate the activities of auto technicians in the State.
He said, “We want to create the largest auto market in this part of Nigeria, in Benin City. We will come back to you early in the New Year with designs so that we can think about it together.
“Because of the unique location of Edo and Benin City, people must drive through our state, and when they have issues or problems, they always stop here to get service.
“That is why your business is big. So, we as government are interested. We want to understand and have enough data on the traffic and see how we can now constructively structure that opportunity so that you people can get more benefits from this special advantage which we have.
“So, we have to work together in a very collaborative manner. You need to give us information, share data with us and we will also share information with you.”
According to the governor, “one of the reasons I want us to quickly build this park is what is going on in Nigeria today. Not very many people can replace their cars.
“So, we have to be able to maintain what we have. And that has a lot of implication. I think at a point, we should be able to begin to make and assemble parts, especially as foreign exchange is scarce.
“I don’t believe in working from the top to below. If you work from the bottom and you work from the top, you get to where you are going faster.
“So, that is another opportunity I want us to start exploring very early in the New Year.”
Gov. Obaseki said government would strengthen and regulate the activities of auto technicians, adding that “I was very clear and definite that I want to help you to strengthen your association so that we can regulate your business better.
“We don’t want anybody to just come out and say, I am a motor technician or a motor mechanic. If you are not a member of the association, then, you are not, and you are not supposed to practice.
“Right now, anybody can just set up a workshop or a garage anywhere in the city, and do anything. And see many places where you are not supposed to have garage, people have abandoned vehicles, and there is nobody to talk to.
“We cannot continue to have our things like this, and that is one reason why we must collaborate. We will call you for other meetings. Let us have the register of your members.
“Let us go around, street by street, area by area. People who are there, who are practicing, who are not your members, let us know. And then, if we don’t have the necessary law, we can now pass the necessary statute to make sure we are able to regulate this business better.”
The governor then assured them saying “we will do everything to support you and work with you since we both have the same aim and we want to achieve the same goals to make a better society.”
Earlier, the Chairman of Nigerian Automobile Technician Association (NATA), Edo State Chapter, Comrade Felix Inegbenosun Irabor, said they were in Government House to facilitate with Obaseki on his electoral victory as Governor of Edo state.
Irabor complained that the mechanic village sites allocated to them had been encroached upon by various communities in the state and called on him to help them to retrieve the land or allocate other sites to them.
He said, “We need to draw your attention to what is happening in our environment. Over the years, the then military government gave us mechanic village sites situated in different parts of the State.
“Only in Benin metropolis, we have about six sites. Some of these mechanic villages have been encroached upon by various communities.
` We hereby plead with you and as a matter of urgency, to kindly help us retrieve or allocate another site for us, to enable our members move to the site.”