- Ajaokuta-Warri Rail Ready in June 2018
The Federal Government on Monday announced that commercial activities will begin on the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail line in June next year.
According to the government, the rail line connecting about five states has been abandoned for over 30 years.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, told journalists during an inspection tour of rail lines that the Itakpe-Ajaokuta-Warri rail project had been budgeted for by the current administration.
He said the contract had been awarded in two phases, adding, “The first one was awarded in 1987. We have a directive from the Federal Government that we must complete the rail line and it was put in this year’s budget. By the end of December last year, we had disbursed some money to the contractors, Julius Berger and others, to commence work. So, we have come to see how far.
“We are constructing bridges too in order to reduce contact with human beings who would try to cross the track because this is a speed lane. Once it starts, it is going to be 120 kilometres to 150 kilometres per hour and the chances of killing human beings are going to be higher than the narrow gauge because it is a standard gauge.”
Amaechi also said, “This contract, depending on who you are talking to, some will say 30 years while others will say 34 years, but whatever year it is, we need to get this place functioning and the directive of the Federal Government is that we should start and our target is that by June, commercial activities will resume.”
He said the government might award some vandalised portions of the rail line to the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation, adding, “We are hoping that the CCECC would be able to finish before May 2018.”
The minister said, “Also, there are no stations; so, the CCECC will have to build stations. Julius Berger was handling the project before but it said it could not continue because it had demobilised and taken all its equipment back to France.
“They (Julius Berger) can’t start bringing equipment back again because it would cost us more than to take a contractor that is in Nigeria and has all the equipment and can fix it because standard gauge is standard gauge anywhere; there is no magic about it.”
Amaechi said Julius Berger would complete all other civil work it started and that the firm was on site to complete the highlighted portions.
On the cost implication, he said, “I can’t tell you about that because it was awarded in 1987 and later in 1994 and they were in phases. What is important now is that the Federal Government is determined to complete it so that we can have train on this track by June next year.”
Meanwhile, the construction work on the Lagos-Ibadan standard gauge rail line is set to begin soon as the first batch of 6,000 tonnes of rails out of 45,000 for the project will be ready for shipment to Nigeria from China next week.
The Chief Project Coordinator, Mr. Leo Yin, said this in Lagos on Monday during a visit to the Nigerian Railway Corporation headquarters by the Senate Committees on Land Transport, and Local and Foreign Debts.
He also said that 700 workers out of 7,000 workforce required for the project had been mobilised.
Yin, who said only 85 per cent of advanced payment had been released, noted that the delay in the release of the counterpart funding had been a major challenge to the execution of the project.
The committee chairmen, Senators Gbenga Ashafa (Land Transport) and Shehu Sani (Local and Foreign Debts), who visited the site at Agege alongside other members of the committees, said they were impressed with the progress of work.
The committees, however, directed the Ministry of Transportation to submit to the secretariats detailed work plan for the project with feasible timelines for actualising the different stages of the work.
The Federal Government, which awarded the N458bn project to the CCECC, had earlier given the end of 2018 for new rail line to commence operation. The plan is to connect it to the recently inaugurated Abuja-Kaduna rail and take the double line to Kano.
Gov Emmanuel Attracts $1.4b Fertilizer Plant to Akwa Ibom
The Governor of Akwa Ibom State, Mr. Udom Emmanuel has signed an agreement for the citing of a multi billion fertilizer plant in his State.
Governor Emmanuel was part of a Nigerian delegation led by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, that visited Morocco to set out the next steps of the $1.4 Bln fertilizer production plant project launched in June 2018.
The agreement between the OCP Africa, the Nigerian Sovereign Investment Authority and the Akwa Ibom State Government will birth one of the biggest investments in the fertilizer production industry worldwide.
The signing ceremony took place at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UMP6).
Mr. Emmanuel signed one of the agreements of the partnership, which covers a memorandum of understanding between OCP Africa, the Akwa Ibom State in Nigeria and the NSIA on land acquisition, administrative facilitation, and common agricultural development projects in the Akwa Ibom State.
Speaking while signing the agreement, Governor Emmanuel said, “Our state is receptive to investments and we are prepared to offer the necessary support to make the project a reality.
“With a site that is suitably located to enable operational logistics and an abundance of gas resources, all that is left is for the parties to accelerate the project development process”, Mr. Udom said.
The agreement reached between the Nigerian Government and the OCP further links OCP, Mobil Producing Nigeria (MPN), the NNPC, the Gas Aggregation Company Nigeria (GACN), and the NSIA.
The two partners agreed to strengthen further their solid partnership leveraging Nigerian gas and the Moroccan phosphate.
This project will lead to a multipurpose industrial platform in Nigeria, which will use Nigerian gas and Moroccan phosphate to produce 750,000 tons of ammonia and 1 million tons of phosphate fertilizers annually by 2025.
The visit of the Nigerian delegation to Morocco takes place within the frame of the partnership sealed between OCP Group and the Nigerian Government to support and develop Nigeria’s agriculture industry.
Following the success of the first phase of Nigeria‘s Presidential Fertilizer Initiative (PFI) and the progress of the fertilizer production plant project launched in 2018 by OCP and NSIA, the Moroccan phosphates group and the Nigerian government delegation have agreed on the next steps of their joint project which is rapidly taking shape.
Several cooperation agreements were inked on Tuesday at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) by OCP Africa and the Nigerian delegation. Through these deals, OCP reaffirms its unwavering support of agricultural development initiatives in Nigeria including PFI.
OCP Africa and the NSIA have agreed, inter alia, to set up a joint venture which will oversee the development of the industrial platform that will produce ammonia and fertilizers in Nigeria.
The OCP has also pledged to supply Nigerian famers with quality fertilizers adapted to the needs of their soil at competitive prices and produced locally.
ICPC Says Nigeria Loses $10bn to Illicit Financial Flows
The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) says Nigeria accounts for 20 per cent or 10 billion dollars (N3.8 trillion) of the estimated 50 billion dollars that Africa loses to Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs).
Chairman of ICPC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, said this during a virtual meeting to review a report on IFFs in relation to tax, Mrs Azuka Ogugua, spokesperson for ICPC, said in a statement released in Abuja on Friday.
The ICPC Chairman said, “the African Union Illicit Financial Flow Report estimated that Africa is losing nearly 50 billion dollars through profit shifting by multinational corporations and about 20 per cent of this figure is from Nigeria alone.”
The ICPC boss explained that taxes played “very strategic role in the nation’s political economy.”
He said the objective of the meeting was to improve on the awareness on IFFs, especially in the areas of taxation.
The ICPC boss added that the meeting would give participants the opportunity to openly discuss how to effectively use the instrumentality of taxation to curb IFFs through risk-based approach.
“Risk-based approach, that is: monitoring and audit; due process in tax collection; structured tax amnesty framework skewed in public interest; data privacy; timely resolution of audits and payment of tax refunds and intelligence sharing among revenue generating, regulatory and law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Owasanoye also stated that for the contemporary tax man to remain relevant, he must build his capacity in areas of technology management, solution architects and an astute relationship manager.
The Executive Chairman of Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) Mr Muhammad Nani, expressed concerns that IFFs posed a serious threat to the Nigerian economy as the act robbed the nation of resources that were needed for development.
Nani declared that tackling IFFs would expand the country’s tax base and improve revenue generation, which was required for development.
He consequently pushed for policy reforms that would make it difficult for “capital flights” from occurring so that the country would be placed on the path of growth.
Other discussants at the event identified weak regulatory framework, opacity of financial system and lack of capacity amongst others as some of the factors that fuelled IFFs.
The discussants emphasised the need for capacity building of relevant stakeholders as one of the ways to stamp out illicit financial flows.
They commended ICPC for leveraging its corruption prevention mandate to open a new vista in IFFs discourse in Nigeria. (NAN)
African Development Bank, Egypt Signs Agreements Worth €109 Million to Transform Sewage Coverage in Rural Areas
The African Development Bank Group has signed financing agreements of €109 million with the Government of Egypt to improve sanitation infrastructure and services for rural communities in Luxor Governorate in Egypt’s Upper Nile region.
The financing consists of a €108 million loan from the Bank, and a grant of €1 million from the Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Initiative (RWSSI) – an Africa-wide initiative hosted by the African Development Bank.
The funding, provided in a challenging global context, will help meet the Egyptian government’s financing requirements in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, and support a sound water and sanitation infrastructure base, a key enabler for the country’s inclusive development.
The Integrated Rural Sanitation in Upper Egypt-Luxor (IRSUE-Luxor) project is set to boost sewage coverage in the region from 6% to 55%, improving the quality of life of citizens, including women and children, who are most affected by poor sanitation.
“Promoting efficient, equitable and sustainable economic development through integrated water resources management is a priority for the Government of Egypt. The IRSUE-Luxor initiative unlocks the socio-economic development potential for inclusive and green growth,” said Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, who signed the agreements on behalf of the Egyptian government.
About 22,000 households (240,000 inhabitants) will benefit from on-site and off-site facilities, through an integrated system of sewerage networks, sludge treatment and wastewater treatment plants.
IRSUE-Luxor contributes to the National Rural Sanitation Program established by the Ministry of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities, which aims to expand nationwide access to sanitation services from 34% currently to 60% in 2030.
The project also complements the national Haya Karima (Decent Life) initiative that aims to help rural communities across Egypt access essential infrastructure services to improve their living conditions and livelihoods.
Furthermore, the project includes a staff training component to strengthen performance within the Luxor Water and Wastewater Company.
“This intervention is not just about infrastructure development. An essential part of the project is supporting ongoing sector reforms,” said Malinne Blomberg, the Bank’s Deputy Director General for North Africa.
One of several initiatives supported by the African Development Bank in Egypt to optimize the use of the country’s water resources, IRSUE-Luxor will enable about 30,000 cubic meters of treated wastewater per day to be discharged into drainage and irrigation canals and re-used to enhance agricultural output.
The initiative is in line with the Bank’s water sector policy, which promotes efficient, equitable and sustainable development through integrated water resources management. In addition, the operation supports tariff regulation to achieve full cost recovery, which is one of the basic principles of the Bank’s water sector policy.
The partnership between Egypt and the African Development Bank Group dates back more than half a century. More than 100 operations have been deployed, mobilizing more than $6 billion across multiple strategic sectors.
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