Aso Villa Reads for 19/08/2020

Every day, we bring you the best stories that the Media is reporting about the Government of Nigeria

Determined to ease vessels and boat navigation on the nation’s inland waterways, the National Inland Waterways Authority ( NIWA) said it has begin discussions with some United Kingdom (UK) and Swiss Marine firms to remove wrecks littered on the inland waters. George Moghalu, managing director of NIWA, who disclosed this in Lagos during a stakeholders’ meeting with boat operators organised by the Authority’s Lagos Area Office, said the firms when engaged, will remove the wrecks for other purposes and pay the Federal Government in return. According to him, NIWA is determined to make Nigerian inland waters navigable for 24/7 in order to promote safety and encourage water transportation. He said the authority will not leave any stone unturned in tightening the safety regulatory procedure on passenger boats in order to curb accident on inland waters, adding that over five avoidable boat mishaps happened in the last one month across the nation, Punch reported. “We are going to enforce all safety regulations for operations on the waterways. We are going to recertify all boats and retrain all boat captains. NIWA would also impound all boats that aren’t worthy to be on the waterways,” Moghalu said.

Nigeria becomes a full member country at an opportune time. According to Proshare, it joins ahead of others that are fast-tracking membership given the trade and investment insurance challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and also recognizing the potential post pandemic opportunities. H.E. President Buhari signed the instrument of ratification to the African Trade Insurance Agency’s (ATI) treaty. This finalises Nigeria’s membership in ATI in a process that began some years ago. Membership in ATI allows Nigeria to attract additional insurance capacity to help attract investments and it also increases ATI’s capacity to support sovereign and commercial transactions in the country. Ultimately, Nigeria benefits because effective risk mitigation is vital to increasing investments and trade flows. Nigeria’s membership comes at a critical time for the economy as a sharp drop in oil prices due to a COVID-related one-third decrease in demand, has impacted the country’s spending plans. In Nigeria, ATI has already provided significant support in the country’s oil and gas sector covering oil traders as well as in the financial sector insuring financial institutions. “As one of the largest economies in Africa with a vibrant private sector, ATI looks forward to working with the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, local financial institutions and corporate traders to support Nigeria’s economic diversification plans and its post-COVID recover.” noted Benjamin Mugisha, ATI’s Chief Underwriting Officer.

Nigeria’s oil ministry will present a long-awaited oil and gas reform bill to the president in the coming days aimed at boosting output and attracting foreign investment, three sources close to the negotiations told Reuters. The reforms, 20 years in the making, are particularly urgent this year as low oil prices and a shift towards renewable energy have made competition tougher to attract investment from oil majors. A draft summary seen by Reuters included provisions that would streamline and reduce some oil and gas royalties. One of the sources described even the government’s reduced take of oil revenues, through taxes, royalties and other fees, as “aggressive” compared with other nations. Some African countries are trying to cut red tape and taxes in order to make developing their oil and gas reserves attractive to companies. It proposes to boost the amount of money companies pay to local communities and for environmental cleanups. It would also alter the dispute resolution process between companies and the government, though specifics of the changes were not included in the summary. The bill also included measures aimed at pushing companies to develop gas discoveries and a framework for gas tariffs and delivery.

According to Business Day, history was made at weekend at the Onne Port, Rivers State, as leading container terminal operator, the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), received the largest containership so far to berth at any Nigerian port. The huge ship named Maersk Stadelhorn, with a length overall of 300 metres and beam of 48.2 metres, has capacity to carry about 10,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) of containers. Before now, the regular containerships calling at Nigerian ports are those in the class of WAFMAX with maximum capacity of 4,500 TEUs. Maersk Stadelhorn successfully berthed at WACT, Onne, on Sunday, August 15 at 1600hrs and currently situated at Berth 8 and overlapping on Berth 9 due to the very large size/frame. “We are excited at this historic achievement. We thanked the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) for dredging the channels and for professionally piloting the vessel to the port. Without the effort, support and approval of NPA, this would not have been possible,” Klaus Laursen, Country Manager of APM Terminals Nigeria, said. In addition to the support of NPA, Laursen said, the huge investment by APM Terminals in WACT also made it possible for the terminal to upgrade its services with modern cargo handling equipment to be able to handle very large container carriers. “The feat recorded here at WACT is impressive. The significance of this development is that even the ports in Lagos will now play catch up with the new standards set by WACT. It is also important to mention that this is happening at this critical time when economies of the world are facing a lot of challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a mark of confidence in the Nigerian economy. The COVID-19 challenges are temporary, and the economy will certainly record positive growth in the nearest future,” Laursen said.

Vanguard reports that the Federal Operations Unit, FOU, Zone A of the Nigeria Customs Service, NCS, has impounded vehicles, imported rice and other items with Duty Paid Value, DPV of N10 billion. Acting Customs Area Controller, CAC of the Unit, Usman Yahaya, said the seizure were made at Ido-Eruwa road in one day Yahaya, in a statement by the Public Relations Officer of the unit, Peter Duniya, noted that the contraband comprised 34 fairly used and new vehicles which were laden with second hand clothes, Indian hemp and foreign parboiled rice. Yahaya further disclosed that though there were stiff resistance from the smugglers who engaged the support of hoodlums but the Customs operatives displayed high level of professionalism and restraint to secure the contraband to the Customs warehouse in Lagos. He, however, warned smugglers to desist from engaging in economic activities that sabotaged the government policies of making Nigeria self sufficient in food production.

There are very strong indications that, unless the Chinese Civil Engineering & Construction Corporation (CCECC) takes the marching order issued by Rotimi Amaechi, Nigeria’s minister of transportation to speed up construction work on the train stations located on the ongoing Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail corridor seriously and implement same in the coming weeks, the planned commencement of passenger train services may face some some hurdles. During the weekend’s project inspection tour by Amaechi and Lai Mohammed, minister of information, beginning from thw Ebute Metta mega station to the yet-to-be-started strategic train station inside the Apapa port, other major and minor stations along the 156.5 kilometer Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail corridor that are at various stages of completion are located at Ebute Metta Junction (EBJ), Agege, Agbado, Kajola, Papalanto, Abeokuta, Olodo, Omi-Adio and Ibadan. In total, there are 10 trains; four in Lagos, three in Ogun and four in Oyo states respectively. Out of this numbers, there are three mega stations; one at EBJ in Lagos, one in Kajola in Ogun state which houses the proposed wagons and coaches assembly plant and another one near Ibadan, where the planned dry port will be located. With only rubbles of demolished structures seen at the strategic proposed train station inside Apapa port complex, completed physical structures for the three major stations and other seven smaller stations in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states are without fittings yet. There will also installation of electrical, signallying and other equipments when these stations are completed. The minister of Transport Rotimi Ameachi said the commissioning of the Lagos Ibadan Railway will likely take place in January 2021. While expressing dissatisfaction on the level of work done in some of the stations, Amaechi gave Xia Lijun; the project Coordinator CCECC, 21 days timeline to ensure completion of the stations. Business Day reports.

The Federal Government has commenced the process of reviving moribund industries across the country, Punch reports. The Minster of Industries, Trade and Investment, Otunba Adeniyi Adebayo, disclosed this when he led a Federal Government delegation on a courtesy visit to the Emir of Kano, Aminu Ado-Bayero on Tuesday. Adebayo, represented by the ministry’s Director Planning, Alhaji Tijjani Babura, said the purpose of the visit to Kano was to inspect and assess the affected industries. According to him, the team was not only in the state to assess the collapsed industries but also to see how those managing their operations despite economic challenges would be supported. Adebayo said, “After the inspection, we are going to report whatever we have seen back to our leaders so that we can see how and where to intervene.” According to him, the present regime is working assiduously to fine-tune modalities for addressing the challenges bedevilling collapsed industries in the country. The minister said, “Industrial revival is a great pillar for creating job opportunities for the teeming youths in the country.”