The Chairman, Senate Committee on Land Transport, Gbenga Ashafa, has faulted the N4.5bn earmarked for the Nigerian railway in the 2016 budget, describing it as grossly inadequate to meet the immediate needs of the industry, according to Punch report.
He said this on Tuesday during an inspection tour of the railway facilities in Lagos by the joint Senate and House Committees on Land Transport.
Ashafa said, “What that amount can do in one year for a corporation with an overhead of N399m, I don’t know; this is because the bulk of that sum is tailored towards the personnel cost. For the record, the Nigerian Railway Corporation has a total of 9,700 employees.
“While we are inching closer to where we ought to be as a nation in the area of land transport, we are clearly not anywhere close to the mark. The task of moving from a dispensation of single track railway to the standard gauge and then towards exploring the possibilities of electronic railway depends on all of us present here.”
He added that the inspection tour was in line with the lawmakers’ responsibilities in carrying out the oversight functions of the ministries and departments under their supervision.
Ashafa said it had become imperative for members of the committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives to carry out on-the-spot assessment of all the paper work submitted and defended before them.
The Chairman, House Committee on Land Transport, Aminu Isa, expressed his delight at the NRC’s achievements and assured the corporation of the House’s assistance.
He said, “This corporation, if given the chance, will do better. We as honourable members intend to intervene and see how we can greatly assist the NRC in this 2016 budget. I hope the corporation will be able to take us to the level where South Africa and Ethiopia are with their railway systems.”
The Managing Director of the NRC, Mr. Adeseyi Sijuwade, in his address, said the railway which had been comatose for decades was now back on track.
He said, “Following substantial progress on the ongoing rehabilitation projects, the NRC now operates mass transit trains, intercity passenger trains, cargo trains, excursion and specialised charter trains all over the country.
“We are equally optimistic about commencing the movement of petroleum products from Lagos up the North soonest to further strengthen railway relevance to Nigeria’s economic growth.”
Sijuwade added that the NRC was also involved in the movement of cement from Ewekoro to Minna, Kaduna and Kano for the Lafarge Cement; the movement of wheat and flour products from Lagos to Kano for Flour Mills Limited; and the movement of containers from the Apapa Port to Kaduna and Kano for APMT and ICNL.
The Director of Operations of the NRC, Mr. Niyi Ali, lamented that the lack of funding towards the completion of the Safe Train Control system had slowed down its implementation.
A modern railway signal system, the STC, allows the NRC to monitor real-time movements of trains on the tracks, with the aid of the On Board Computers installed on its locomotives, according to him.
The NRC began a trial implementation of the project last year, he added.
“The problem we have is funding. The contractor has not been paid for over a year. This is one of the projects being funded by SURE P and since its demise, the project has slowed down. A lot of equipment has already been shipped in,” Ali said.
FG Has Paid Fuel marketers N74B in Seven Months — NMDPRA
The Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) on Wednesday disclosed that the federal government has paid oil marketers N74 billion as bridging claims in last seven months..
The agency said it was reacting to claims by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN), Suleja branch, that continuing fuel scarcity was caused by non-payment of bridging claims.
The agency said it paid N71.2 billion bridging claims and another N2.7 billion freight differentials to the marketers as of June 6.
In May, IPMAN said the government owed its members half a trillion naira being the cost of transporting petrol across the country.
However, at the time NMDPRA had claimed to have paid oil marketers bridging claims of about N59 billion in five months.
In recent months, fuel scarcity has worsened in Abuja and several other cities across the country.
Marketers had listed the high cost of buying petrol at the depots and the high cost of diesel to truck them as the major factors responsible for the recent queue.
On Monday, the government announced that the nation’s capital petroleum deliveries were up nearly 100 per cent after the government offered additional N10 freight reimbursements to marketers.
The statement by the NMDPRA reads: “The attention of the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority (NMDPRA) has been drawn to allegations made by the Independent Petroleum Marketers Association Nigeria (IPMAN Suleja Branch) on product scarcity as a result of non-payment of bridging claims.
“The authority chief executive of the NMDPRA, at a meeting held on 17th May 2022 with IPMAN bridging payment was discussed extensively and the processes were explained and agreed upon by IPMAN.
“He assured IPMAN of NMDPRA’s willingness to continue making payments of outstanding claims to promote seamless operations.
“Pursuant to the meeting, the NMDPRA went ahead to make an additional payment of N10 billion in June and sought for an upward review of the freight rate which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari and is currently being implemented.
“The Authority wishes to reiterate that bridging payment is an ongoing process which is carried out after due verification exercise by the Authority and Marketers.
“So far, the Authority paid N71,233,712,991 bridging claims and another N2,736,179,950.84 freight differentials to the Marketers as at 6th June 2022.
“A breakdown of payment made to Marketers is as follows: Major Marketers (MOMAN) received N9,958,777,487.24, IPMAN members were paid N42,301,923,616.96, NNPC Retails N6,661,459,118.61 while DAPPMAN members were paid N12,303,195,651.57, these translate to a total of N73,969,892,941.84.
“It is disheartening that despite these payments and increase of N10 bridging cost, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari two weeks ago, IPMAN could turn around to accuse the NMDPRA of insensitivity,” the statement said.
It said NMDPRA remains committed to ensuring a safe, efficient, and effective conduct of midstream and downstream petroleum operations.
Nigeria-Cameroon Link Bridge up for Inauguration this June – Fashola
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has stated that the Nigeria-Cameroon link bridge will be inaugurated this June.
Speaking at the 16th inter-ministerial meeting of the group in Abuja, Fashola who doubles as the Chairman of the five regional ministerial steering committees, explained that the largely funded bridge by the African Development Bank (AfDB) is completed and in hopes that ECOWAS would deliver support for the inauguration.
“We have completed a new link bridge that links Nigeria to Cameroon, and it was funded largely by the AfDB and we are hoping that the ECOWAS commission will give us the necessary support to ensure the formal opening of that bridge sometime in the month of June,” he said.
The commitment to the piece of infrastructure, according to the minister, is to transform the road network into a first-class six-lane motorway, emphasizing that while speed is important, quality must not be lost.
“We’re trying to deliver a better life for five countries and over 40 million people who use that corridor, almost on a daily basis.
“The future is bright, this is an important investment for the people of Africa to achieve the objective of the Africa Union (AU) to create a trans-African highway,” he stated.
Lydie Ehouman, AfDB’s Chief Transport Economist and Project Task Manager, also spoke at the event, stating that the bank had been able to acquire an additional €3.5 million for the road project.
Investors King gathered that the total sum available for the initial financing of the project’s strategic research has increased to $41 million.
“The agreement for the on-lending of this additional grant by the bank to ECOWAS is currently being finalised. Thus, in addition to its substantial contribution of $25 million, the bank will have mobilised €12.63 million in the form of a grant from the European Union.
“This brings the total amount available for the financing of this highly strategic study to the equivalent of about US$ 41 million,” she stated.
She did, however, point out that specialists in member countries’ claims of delays were untrue, because the arrangement was that labor should persist while any differences were aired and rectified.
UNDP, DPGA to Promote Global Digital Goods
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Digital Public Goods Alliance (DPGA), the government of Norway, and Sierra Leone have agreed to promote inclusive digital public infrastructure in countries across the world.
On Wednesday, Investors King gathered that world leaders, development organisations and philanthropic funders are set to invest in a “large-scale technology sharing, funding, and commitment to supporting the international cooperation agenda.”
In its published statement, UNDP stated that the agreement is to improve governance frameworks, which are critical to building a resilient future for countries.
At the event, global leaders committed their efforts to funding and the implementation of digital public infrastructure through a newly established Digital Public Goods Charter (DPG), which serves as a framework to increase international cooperation on this plan.
With its DPG Charter, co-led by the DPGA and the Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL), the UNDP outlines a clear vision for a coordinated global approach to building a safe, trusted, and inclusive digital public infrastructure using DPGs.
“Doing so can enable countries – regardless of income levels – to transform services and service delivery for people and communities everywhere,” the statement read.
The DPG Charter, and the commitments made by global leaders, are especially relevant given the devastating socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and mounting climate disruption.
These challenges, compounded with the unprecedented food, energy, and financial crisis added by the war in Ukraine, are creating an urgent need for global action.
Digital Public Goods are open-source solutions used to build digital public infrastructure (DPI), enabling countries to provide better services and foster inclusive economic growth.
While the Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) involves digital systems like cash transfers, digital identification, and data exchange that enable the adequate provision of essential society-wide functions. It also allows the building of resilient crisis recovery.
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