It was a jamboree in all the communities at Panisau and its surroundings in Ungogo local government area of Kano state when it was announced that a free trade zone will be established in the area in 1998.
When the work started at the site, a lot of economic activities began to take place and land’s value around the demarcated site also appreciated.
The establishment of the zone in the area, Kano Chronicle observed will transform the economic strength of the communities through emergence of new business opportunities.
The 262 hectares free trade zone was meant to serve as a special economic zone where made in Nigeria goods could be packaged and exported to various countries across the globe. The whole idea for the free trade zone is to promote business competition among countries that entered agreement for this kind of business.
However, since the establishment of the zone in 1998, the project was neglected halfway, thereby dashing the people’s hope.
Residents of Panisau and the neighbouring communities have waited for 20 years to witness commencement of business at the zone.
Isa Hassan, a resident of Jaba said they had never lost hope that one day, a responsible government would revisit the project and work would resume at the site.
“In 1998 when this place was established, we were happy believing that the end of poverty in our area has come. Sadly, we waited 20 years in anticipation for the commencement of business activities in the area. Various administrations come and go without making our dream real. We are happy that the Buhari-led administration has revisited the project,” Jaba said.
Another resident, Malam Yusuf Isa told our reporter that, the zone had been their hope as far as source of livelihood was concerned and that the return of activities on the site rekindled their hope, adding that more than 30 people from within the Panisau were now directly or indirectly engaged in one job or the other at the site.
“We have about 30 people from our community that are directly or indirectly employed at the site. We are so excited that what we have been hoping for years is now coming to reality. Panisau, Jaba and its environs will in no time become a hub of business activities because of this project,” he said.
Kano Chronicle gathered that, recently the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved over N40b for Nigerian Export Processing Zones Authority (NEPZA) and with the release of part of the funds activities in the resuscitation of the zone began as erection of structures and road networks have commenced at the site resulting in jubilation by the host communities.
Our reporter gathered that, the free trade zone comprises 18 warehouses with 10 investor’s suits respectively and that the zone already has 32 registered investors.
The NEPZA General Manager Business Development, a body in charge of the Kano Free Trade Zone (KFTZ), Mr. Terhemba Nongo, said construction of some structures had reached 50% completion, adding that, it was expected that the zone would be commissioned by President Muhammadu Buhari early next year.
However, the senate committee on trade and investment on its oversight function visited the site this week to see the level of progress so far reached.
Addressing newsmen at the site, Chairman of the committee, Senator Sabo Nakudu said federal government had committed huge money in order to complete the project, adding that, though they had noticed some hitches, the committee would make its recommendations to the senate for further actions.
He added that, with the time frame given, the committee would again revisit the site to ensure that the contractors handling the project comply with contractual agreement and finish the work within the stipulated time frame.