Seven years after purchasing, installing and commissioning a $1.5 million printing press, the Akwa Ibom State government has abandoned the machines to rot, Daily Trust reported on Saturday.
The press, which consists of a SupraSetter A105, also known as a Computer To Plate (CTP) machine, runs at 2,400 DPI resolution and a Goss Community press with a web offset press, which has the capability of print 17 color pages, 32 black pages and the white pages of a newspaper, and produces 500,000 impressions per hour.
The project, initiated by the administration of former Governor Godswill Akpabio and commissioned in the twilight of the administration, was to be operated by the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation (AKNC), publisher of Pioneer Newspapers.
It was designed to serve the multi-faceted purpose of printing the state-owned newspaper, operating as a commercial entity serving the printing needs of national dailies and local newspapers, as well as creating direct employment and indirect per 1000 people.
The results reveal that some national dailies had already shown interest in printing their newspapers to the press, especially since it would improve the circulation and early arrival of newspapers in the South-South region.
However, these lofty dreams became a mirage as the press was untested; he never printed any copy of the Pioneer the day it was tested by the experts brought in to handle it.
Investigations show the machines have not worked since they were commissioned by Akpabio on May 28, 2015 – his last official day in office.
Indeed, the complex housing the press remained closed. It was found that the government has not yet officially handed over the press to the AKNC leadership.
As of today, the Pioneer The newspapers, which print 3,000 copies of Monday, midweek and weekend editions each week, are printed in a commercial press.
Violation of civil service rules
Speaking on the abandonment of the press, a former managing director of Pioneer The newspaper, Mr. Silas Udo, who was in office when the press was installed, questioned the way the project was carried out.
Udo revealed that none of the staff had been trained in the operation of the machines; as such, the machines were not used by the Pioneer to print any paper.
He said the Akwa Ibom Newspaper Corporation had not officially received the printing press as it had never been handed over to the company by the parent ministry, the Ministry of Information and Strategy.
He mentioned that the procedural process of receiving the machines was not done because the checklist needed to verify what the state government paid for and what was sent by the manufacturers was not done. done.
“The press was never used to print the Pioneer of my time. Nope Pioneer staff under my direction would train anywhere to master the workings of the press.
“Yes, we did not receive the press. It was a deliberate decision not to receive it because the procedural processes were not done or did not appear to have been done. For example, the checklist to check if what the government paid for is the things sent by the manufacturers was not done.
“It would therefore have been against civil service procedure to sign a cash voucher (SRV). So unless it was done after I left the service, the press remained under the administration of the line ministry,” he said.
Also speaking, Mr. Idorenyin Umoren, then Production Manager of AKNC, said that he was one of the members of the pre-shipment inspection committee of the rotary press announced by the state government to visit the Goss Community Press Company in Germany.
Umoren, however, said the committee was not inaugurated and the inspection at the Goss Community Press Company in Germany, Hieldelberg, never took place.
He said they had only been informed that the machines had arrived at Uyo via Onne in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, and that they were to receive them, saying no AKNC production personnel were had been trained in the use of machines.
Meanwhile, Mr. Patrick Usen, the consultant who managed the project, blamed the Ministry of Information for the failure of the project and called for an investigation into the abandonment of the press.
Usen explained that the machines weren’t working due to improper installation, saying project officials didn’t follow the necessary procedures to set up a press.
He revealed that if the machines had been properly commissioned, the representatives of Hieldelberg, Goss Graphics and himself, who facilitated the process from the purchase and shipment of the machines, would have been available during installation. and commissioning.
He questioned how the machines were received, saying there was no confirmation of what was received versus what was sent, adding that auxiliary equipment, supplied with the machines such as forklift, rollers, etc., which are among the major equipment for the proper functioning of the machines, were missing.
“Governor Godswill Akpabio had excellent intentions for the state and the Pioneer Newspaper in particular. Unfortunately, the Ministry of Information truncated this project. They should be held accountable. I don’t know where this investigation will end, but I think that a commission of inquiry should be set up to investigate the matter further.
“This web offset press has not been received by the pioneer until today; i.e. it was not officially handed over by Goss Graphics to Pioneer due to the random installation procedures. There was no adherence to good installation engineering practices. They rushed to set this up and called the governor, and I think the machine fell apart and failed there.
“There was no ink, no rolling papers, no printing plate to print for the governor to see. All those things weren’t there; and the machine collapsed that day,” he said.
The consultant requested a technical audit of what was supplied, what was installed and how it was installed, as well as possible errors in the installation processes in order to correct the anomaly that prevented the machines to work.
He lamented that the state government has yet to pay him his contract fee for the project, adding that he is ready to come back for proper installation of the machines if the government is willing to go through the right process.
He warned, however, that the SupraSetter A105 (Computer to Plate) machine might need to be upgraded as it might have survived its six-year life by sitting idle.
“There needs to be a technical audit of what was supplied, what was installed, how it was installed and also find out if there were any errors in the installation procedures and realign the machine to start all over again.
“The life of Goss Graphics could be up to 50 years, but the Computer to Plate would last, say, five to six years. All you need is to change parts and upgrade,” he advised.
Unfortunately, efforts to speak with Mr. Aniekan Umana, then Information Commissioner who oversaw the entire process of buying, installing and commissioning the press, were unsuccessful as he did not did not answer his calls or respond to text messages sent to his phone.
When the current Information and Strategy Commissioner, Mr. Ini Ememobong, was contacted on the printing press situation, he said that the state government was working to resolve all areas of concern. shadow surrounding the project.
He said the government is considering handing over the management of the press to private investors, saying the option of some potential investors who have shown interest in managing the press is being considered.
“When I took office, I visited the establishment and commissioned an investigation into the issues surrounding it. We are working to reconcile all the gray areas.
“In line with the Governor’s desire to continue to deliver results in the most cost-effective way possible, we had to open up the business to private investors who would come in to manage the press.
“Many have expressed interest and we are still considering the options. I assure you that before this administration comes out, the press will be taken over for proper management,” he said.
However, the possibility that the press will be revived less than 14 months before Governor Udom Emmanuel’s administration expires is worrying because if the plans fail, the machines will continue to deteriorate.