As the battle between the Oil and Gas Export Processing Zones Authority and Intels continues, 6 sister companies of the firm that were operating in the Onne free trade zone zone have pulled out. Intels had recently been in a battle of words with the Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority (OGFZA). Prior to this, the company also had differences with the Nigerian Ports Authority over its revocation of a pilotage contract awarded to the firm.
What led to the pull out ?
Firms in the country usually have visa quotas, that is a limit to the number of expatriates they can employ. This limit however does not apply to firms operating in free trade zones. The affected firms PRODECO International Ltd., West Africa Machinery Services Ltd., Net Global System International Ltd., MGM Logistics Solutions Ltd., and ORIEAN Investment Ltdhad notified the OGFZA of their intentions to withdraw from the Onne free trade zone, thus no longer being eligible for the waiver.
OGFZA susbsequently wrote to the Immigration Service, requesting that visas of expatriates working for the firms be cancelled. The Comptroller General of the Nigerian Immigration Service then revoked the resident visas of the expatriates working for the affected companies. They were also instructed to leave the country before November 30th, or risk being deported.
Implications of the firms pulling out
While the OGEPZA has maintained it was following due process in its actions, the manner in which it has done so, sends negative signals to investors. Coincidentally, some of the affected firms are sister companies to Intels which currently has disagreements with OGEPZA over the non renewal of its licence.
The firms pulling out will also lead to unemployment, as workers will be laid off. The government is also affected, as it revenue that had been paid by these firms. The immediate Onne community also bears the brunt as industries tend to boost economic activities.