NIGERIAN DREDGING AND TRANSPORTATION UPDATE
LAGOS OSBORNE BRIDGE:
- Hope For End to Lagos Island Traffic Congestion.
Passengers and commuters in the ever busy Lekki-Victoria Island-Ikoyi roads will soon heave a sigh of relief when the new bridge linking Admiralty Way in Lekki Phase to Ikoyi is completed.
Being constructed by Julius Berger Nigeria Plc, the dual carriage bridge which is less than 2.5km stretch will rise at a mid-section of Admiralty Way in Lekki Phase1 and land at Alexander Street in Ikoyi and will hug the waterfront up to Banana Island, according to a source who spoke to DDH at the construction site. Motorists could then use either the newly reconstructed Bourdillon Road or the Banana Island exit to connect the Third Mainland Bridge and thus avoid traffic congestion at Victoria Island and Ikoyi. With the title of Lagos-Osborne bridge, this bridge project appears to be the brainchild of the Governor Babatunde Raji Fashola administration.
In retrospect, the construction of this bridge couldn’t have come at a better time. Millions of man - hours lost yearly on the congested Lekki-Victoria Island –Ikoyi- Lagos Island road network might now be eased somewhat. Usually workers, commuters and vehicle owners who want to get to work as early as 8 o’clock in the morning or need to catch an early morning flight have to leave home as early as 4 or 5 o’clock in order to beat the slow-moving traffic .The same thing is experienced during evening rush hour. The concomitant effects add up to stress, fatigue and an ill-tempered workforce whose zeal for the day’s job is usually sapped by the long stay in near-suffocating traffic jams. Every working day, one observes that as from 5 o’clock, morning or evening, the traffic gradually starts building up and peaks at 7 am or pm. For people living at Ajah axis of Lekki, coming home by 10 or 11pm has now become normal.
Small wonder therefore that the link bridge will bring unlimited succour to many commuters and motorists. When a DDH newshound visited the site, personnel of Julius Berger were busy sinking piles of iron rods and casting bridge platforms at the Admiralty Way section of the work. It was also observed that they were dredging white sand from the water with which they are working as confirmed by denizens of the area. In fact, a large heap of white sand can be seen at the construction site. Some of the construction workers also live in the makeshift apartment at the work site. Floodlights are visible suggesting that work may be going on at night.
Some of the workers who spoke about the project estimated that the project may take about 3 years to complete. But looking at the pace of work and the generally acceptable reputation of the construction company, it may take far less than the estimated project period except if funding problems arise.
DDH gathered that the bridge construction generated much concern for the residents of Banana Island who were said to have feared that such an access road will expose them to security lapses including armed robbery attack. But with the progress of the project, it can be concluded that the project has been accepted. It stands to reason therefore, that the Fashola government is leaving no stone unturned in making sure that more road space is created and traffic congestion which has been the bane of Lagos in recent times is reduced to its barest minimum. It might well be that hope is on the horizon for the traffic congestion in the commercial heartland. Indeed, Lekki - Osborne bridge construction is coming to the rescue: better late than never!
New rules for fare increase and flight cancellations
The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has mandated all domestic airlines in the country to file their fares with the agency and routinely inform it and customers of any fare changes from henceforth.
The Director-General of NCAA, Harold Demuren, said this at a meeting he had recently with the airlines. The meeting which was also attended customer care officers of the authority was aimed at addressing air passengers rights.
In addition to regular information on fares, the airlines are also expected to publish the conditions attached to their tickets.
According to the NCAA guidelines, passengers denied boarding after confirmation of their tickets must be compensated beyond mere refund.
Mr Demuren while not ruling out overbooking said this could only be done if arrangements were made to cater to situations where all booked passengers turn up for the flight.
For flight cancellations, the airlines were informed that any airlines wishing to cancel flights from now on must give specific reasons for the cancellation and the announcement must be made 'timely and courteously.'
The directives were given by the NCAA boss in view of series of complaints from passengers on the abuse of their rights by not only the foreign carriers but domestic carriers.
It will be recalled that the regulatory body had not only warned foreign carriers against meting out inhuman treatment to any Nigerian passengers but spelt out measures including compensation and penalty any defaulting foreign carrier will face.
In the past, fare changes used to be well publicized after approval by the NCAA but in recent times, airlines have made changes to fares that intending passengers got to know only when they had arrived the airports. Reports say some have been stranded at the airports for this reason.
Ogun shells out N26bn for Olokola FTZ Road.
The Ogun State portion of the road leading to the Olokola Free Trade Zone and Deep Seaport in Ogun Waterside Local Government Area of the state would cost the state government the sum of N26 billion .
According to Mr Kehinde Onasanya, the press officer to Governor Gbenga Daniel, the road will pass through five communities commencing from area J4 junction of the Lagos-Ijebu-ode - Benin expressway and linking Ibiade-Abigi-Ifire-Makunomi to Olokola. It also includes four bridges . Governor Daniel disclosed this during a tour of Ogun Waterside Local Government area of the state in June.
He said it had become expedient for the government to execute the project to encourage meaningful investments in the multibillion-dollar project and condemned the statements and actions of some State House of Assembly members who he said were aiming to truncate the investment in the state.
Daniel said his administration was determined to turn the state into an industrial hub by ensuring the success of the project which would be the first of its kind in Africa. In his own words, “We are determined to finance this project by every means. We believe where there is a will, there is a way. But we want you all to help us appeal to the lawmakers who are bent on truncating our efforts. They are saying that the government has no business in business, but we want them to know that the government has a responsibility to provide infrastructure for business to flourish”.
The Governor allayed the fears of people on the project, saying he had met with President Umar Musa Yar’Adua who expressed Federal Government’s determination to move the project forward.
On the investments, he said that arrangements had been concluded with some international investors to set up a 140,000 metric tones petroleum depot at a cost of $50 million, pointing out that the promoters of the project which would be sited in Abigi in Ogun Waterside Local Government, have also promised to construct a ferry port for the use of surrounding communities.
Terminal operators fault move to make NPA port regulator
THE Association of Seaport Terminal Operators of Nigeria (ASTOA) has objected to Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) becoming a sole regulator for maritime gateway operations.
The association's chairperson, Dr. Vicky Haastrup, said at the public hearing on Ports Act (Amendment) 2009 in Abuja that ``the authority is an interested party and therefore could not also be a sole regulator by whatever name or nomenclature''.
She said that the "NPA still manages some terminals contrary to the spirit of port reform".
According to her, there is need to streamline the provision to take into account the division of roles between NPA and concessionaires.
"We note with concern the proposal by NPA seeking powers to unilaterally take over the operations where concessionaires fail to perform the services or in the event of a national emergency," Haastrup said.
She argued that this position of the NPA was against the spirit of fair hearing and did not give confidence or comfort to the terminal operators.
Haastrup noted that the port concession agreement should be respected and properly reflected in the Act.
According to her, the role of the NPA should be consistent with its obligations under the concession agreement to engender the necessary confidence of foreign investors.
Besides, she sought penalty clause for non-performance of roles required by the NPA, like failure to provide the required depth of water and delays in providing pilotage services.
Haastrup also requested for an adjustment of the lease fees in some terminals yet to be taken over four years after their concession due to some encumbrances.
She said that the maintenance of the channels, lighthouse, licensing of pilots, dredging should remain the functions of the NPA.
She, however, said that back-up facilities such as supply of pilot cutters, tug and mooring boats should be thrown open to the private sector in the spirit of the cabotage law.
According to her, the association supported the Federal Government's retention of only three agencies at the nation's seaports.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the draft bill recognises only three agencies out of about 20 agencies presently at the ports.
The bill said that the three agencies would be needed for boarding vessels, gate control and customs examination and delivery.
``We support this position as multiplicity of agencies has created a lot of bottlenecks and delays in delivery."
Appropriate amendment to this section (Section 113) should be introduced to recognise the statutory right of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to carry out its flag state and port state functions," Haastrup said.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Malam Abdulsalam Mohammed, said that the aim of the reform was to allow the port authority operate as a commercial venture and utilise private sector funds for port development.
Mohammed proposed that the NPA should be vested with the sole power to license new port development whether privately or publicly owned.
He said that adequate provisions should be made in the enabling law to provide a clear role for the private sector in port development, provision of port services and infrastructure.
He also requested for financial autonomy to enable it meet its obligations of providing basic infrastructure and port development under the concession agreements.
Lagos-Badagry Road Expansion
As Julius Berger Plc mobilizes to begin the reconstruction of the Lagos-Badagry Expressway into ten lanes, it has emerged that five police stations, two army barracks, telecommunication facilities and a number of private and public properties would be demolished. But the Lagos State Government which is commissioning the project has promised to pay compensation to affected property owners and to rebuild properties of public institutions pulled down to make way for the thoroughfare.
The project will be made up of a 10-lane expressway with two light rail lanes in the middle.
Towards a commencement of the project, a stakeholders’ forum on the proposed project has been held at Alausa, Ikeja with Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Raji Fashola and some of his cabinet members in attendance. Also in attendance were traditional rulers, chairmen of local governments in the affected areas, security chiefs and affected property owners along the Lagos-Badagry Expressway.
The Governor said that the state government had finalised plans to compensate those whose properties would be affected but added that said it would be difficult to quantify the amount of money the state would spend on compensation.
According to him, this was because of the problem of relocating some institutions and building their complexes. Lamenting the failure of Federal Government to intervene in the project given its international significance to the country’s economy Governor Fashola cited other West African countries like Ghana , Togo and Benin Republic which had completed their parts of trans-African route that connects Nigeria with other African countries, saying that “the country’s part is still unconstructed and deplorable.”
The Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Marvel Akpoyibo who attended with the Commander of Beecroft Naval Base, Commodore Patrick Ozojiofor, assured the state government of their support despite the damage the construction would do to police and army barracks along its way.
Akpoyibo confirmed that the construction of Lagos-Badagry Express Way would affect about five police divisions and one army barrack, namely, Orile Police Division, Okoko Police Division, Ijanikin Police Division, Muwo Police Division, Badagry Police Division and Onireke Police Division and Army Signal Barrack at Mile 2. He however reiterated that the state police command was ready to relocate its facilities.
In addition, he expressed support of the Police and the Nigeria Armed Forces for the project, promising that the they will deploy police officers to the area to ensure security of lives and properties.
According to him, “We are aware of the project. We are so excited about the project because it will take Lagos State to a new realm of development long expected. The facilities of Nigeria Police and Nigeria Armed are going to be affected. But we will throw our weight behind the state government to ensure a successful completion of the project,”
The Commissioner of Physical Planning, Mr. Francisco Abosede in a speech noted that the state government had served notices on all the structures along the road and inventory of such structures have been taken and compensation computed.
According to him, “Relocation of markets, iron mongers, traders etc to other locations are being concluded. This, we have done for such projects as Oluwole Redevelopment Project in Lagos Island, Oko Baba Sawmill to Agbowa-Ikosi, Lekki-Epe Expressway, Ikeja Model City Plan, Lekki Infrastructural Development Plan and Gated Streets.”
22 Die in Wukari Boat Mishap
A boat mishap at Jibu village in Wukari local government area of Taraba State has claimed the lives of 22 people.
The boat carrying 40 people, mostly women, was headed to the opposite side of the river to a naming ceremony when it capsized, early July.
Of the 22 bodies recovered, eight women were identified to have come from one family compound in the village.
Confirming the report to newsmen, the acting chairman of the local government , Mr. Ladan Umar, described the incident as a shocking tragedy while a member representing the area at the state House of Assembly, Josiah Kente, said he was working to ensure that necessary assistance was given to the victims and their relatives.
The State Police Public Relations Officer, Sani Baba, also confirmed the incident. He said the police was working to ascertain the actual number of casualties. As at press time, over 10 people who were in the boat were still missing.
Govt will privatise Lagos, Port Harcourt airports, Sets up Committee.
THE Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has disclosed plans by the Federal Government privatize its airports at Lagos, Calabar, Port Harcourt and Kano and other in order.to turn around their fortunes.
The chairman of FAAN board of directors, Chief Ebitimi Banigo, who spoke at the maiden meeting with representatives of Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria (ATSSAN) and the National Union of Air Transport Employees (NUATE), in Lagos in mid July said that the idea would be pursued with the concession of some of the airports and the automation of their facilities to improve revenue generation, in line with Federal Government's Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative and the vision of making Nigeria one of the top 20 industrialised nations by 2020.
However, he noted the poor state of infrastructure at the airports and enjoined the workers to brace up for the challenges of PPP, automation and concession.
Up for concession are the Murtala Muhammed Airport, Lagos; Mallam Aminu Kano Airport, Kano; Port Harcourt Airport, Omagwa and the Margaret Ekpo Airport, Calabar.
Banigo assured the unions that their members would be carried along in the concession arrangement and the management of the airports. He tasked them to develop themselves through modern skill acquisition needed for the competitive environment of private sector operations.
According to him, "FAAN is not immune to prevailing challenges. We face growing competition from other airports, particularly in Northern and Southern Africa. We must consider effecting structural changes on some of our airport facilities to handle newer and bigger aircraft being deployed by international and domestic carriers.
"The Open Skies policy, which Nigeria has bought into, has encouraged more international airlines to embrace our growing market."
In another development, the Aviation Minister, Babatunde Omotoba, has set up a steering committee that would supervise the concession of four international airports that have been earmarked for the Public, Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
This was during a closed-door meeting with management of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) in Lagos.
The committee’s chairman is Captain Dele Ore, a former pilot with the defunct Nigeria Airways Limited (NAL), who retired as NAL’s director flight operation.
The General Manager, Public Affairs, FAAN, Akin Olukunle, said that Ore promised at the meeting to carry all stakeholders in the aviation industry along with a view to making recommendations that would be acceptable to all interest groups.
$8b Chinese rail contract Suspended
The Federal Government has suspended the $8 billion railway contract awarded to Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction Company (CCECC) by former President Olusegun Obasanjo on account of alleged non-compliance with due process.
The revelation was made by the Western Zone District Manager of the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Mr. Folorunso Gbadamosi, who told reporters that the federal government, in the alternative, plans soon to rehabilitate the existing old tracks.
The Obasanjo government had made an advance payment of $250m to CCECC but the award has been described by President Yar'Adua's Chief Economic Adviser, Taminu Yakubu, as illegal on the ground that the former president did not present the project and its budget to the National Assembly before signing it.
The suspended project was the first phase of a 25-year railway modernisation project which the Obasanjo administration had planned to raise the travelling speed of passenger trains in Nigeria to 120-150km/h. The railway line was supposed to pass through eight state capitals and the Federal Capital Territory, with a completion time of 48 months.
But the NRC according to Mr Gbadamosi had recently acquired 25 new locomotives to ply the existing tracks within the next six months.
Orogodo River Dredging Project: Delta Govt Gives Ultimatum
The Delta State Government has expressed dissatisfaction over the extent of work done by the contractor handling the N2.5 billion Orogodo River Dredging Project in Ika area of the state. The project was supposed to check flooding and erosion menace. Following the heavy flooding and erosion threat frequently faced by the people of Ika community comprising of Owa and Agbor during raining season, the state government approved the dredging project in 2007. But two years after N1.4billion mobilization fee was released to Rolex Nigerian Limited, an indigenous construction firm handling the project, work is yet to reach an appreciable level; prompting the Commissioner for Environment, Dr. Bello Orubebe, to give a 16-week ultimatum to the contractor within which to complete the project or risk prosecution by authorities for breach of contract.
Orubebe expressed dissatisfaction with the level of work done so far, saying that if the contractor had properly studied the environment, he would have been able to take full advantage of the weather to cover more grounds. He warned that government would not tolerate any form of delay from the contractor neither will it allow for the re-evaluation of the contract cost.
The Commissioner advised the contractors to work in tandem with other stake holders such as the contractor handling the dualization project of the old Agbor – Lagos road and the Benin – Owena River Basin dredging and the ministry of Environment to allow for compatibility.
“Due to the strategic importance attached to the project and with the huge financial resources committee so far by the Uduaghan administration, there was the need to ensure a lasting solution to the ecological problem in these communities is achieved.”, he said.
The commissioner also said there was the need for a proper environmental audit in terms of vegetation and species along the Orogodo River to be carried out to ensure environmental sustainability of the area.
National Assembly May Repeal Nigerian Railway Corporation Act
A bill for an Act to repeal the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act Cap N129 LPN 2004, to provide for the establishment of the Nigerian Railway Authority has passed through second reading after a heated debate that saw lawmakers voting unanimously in favour of the Bill. This strongly indicates that the Nigerian Railway Corporation Act may soon be repealed to pave way for private sector participation in the provision of rail services in the country.
The Bill, sponsored by Honourable Mayor Eze (PDP Imo) seeks the introduction of private investors and the establishment of a regulator to enhance good service delivery in the sector. According to the lawmaker, the Bill, which was read for the first time on July 22 is strategic in the economic development of the country.
He noted that the repeal of the old legislation will not only ensure unhindered participation of the private sector in the provision of rail services but would lead to modernization of the rail transport system in the country.
Eze argued that the Nigerian Railway Corporation had remained stagnated and degenerated to its present level because the old legislation reserved participation in the sector to the Federal Government alone but that all over the world, critical sectors of social infrastructure are no longer limited to the governments but expanded for the overall economic and social benefits such as greater efficiency and job creation.
Private sector participation, Eze said, has been the engine of growth in many advanced economies, adding that the Bill would go a long way to remove the pressure on the country’s roads and reduce road traffic accidents.
The Bill received an overwhelming support from lawmakers who also urged the House to pass the document in the interest of the railway system in the country. It received a positive voice vote and was subsequently referred to the House Committees on Land Transport and Privatisation and Commercialisation for further legislative work.