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As Third Mainland Bridge Reopens

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  • As Third Mainland Bridge Reopens

The Third Mainland Bridge was reopened 5pm on Sunday by the Federal and the Lagos State governments. It was some eight hours earlier than the 00.00 hours (12 a.m.) deadline earlier slated for the exercise.

The early reopening was received with huge excitement across the state as motorists heaved a sigh of relief at the multiplier effect of the reopening on travel pattern.

The last 72 hours had been tortuous for motorists, who spent several hours on the alternative routes identified by the state government.

Despite the huge deployment of policemen and traffic agencies to manage the fallout of the traffic, it remained a major crisis all through the weekend, with many corporate firms with offices on the mainland directing its workers to resume in those offices and avoid the Lagos Island if the bridge was not reopened on schedule by the government at the weekend.

For a country noted for its horrible maintenance culture, the seriousness with which the government had attended to auditing the integrity of the Third Mainland Bridge has elicited renewed interest.

The last time the bridge went through a comprehensive maintenance was 2012, when the then government of President Goodluck Jonathan closed the bridge down for four months between July and November.

The three-day closure, which it said was needed for integrity checks, was meant to again check all the 11 expansion joints for wears and tears, in order to eventually determine the kind of maintenance that would be needed to be carried out.

Each of the expansion joints was comprehensively tested during the exercise while required remedial works have been noted, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Transportation Dr Taiwo Salaam observed on Sunday.

Assessing the scope and success of the work, Salaam said: “We finished work on all the joints by 2.30pm on Sunday and the bridge was shortly thereafter opened again for vehicular traffic.”

According to him, it is after the completion of the exercise that experts in the Federal Ministry of Works are going to meet on the reports collated during this three- day exercise to know the type of remedial action that the bridge would need this time around as well as the time duration for such an exercise.

The Federal Controller of Works, Fred Adedamola Kuti, said the government had returned to the 12 kilometre long bridge because some of the bridge’s expansion joints have started showing signs of stress.

Kuti further assured that a more comprehensive test would be carried out on the bridge, that after the surface work, divers would go under the bridge to determine the wellbeing of the foundation, beams, piers and the stanchions.

On May 4, this year, the Federal Executive Council had approved $53 million (about N18.8 billion) for a comprehensive maintenance of the Third Mainland Bridge.

The required maintenance, which is expected to last for 27 months according to the Minister of Power Works and Housing Babatunde Fashola, is to be handled by the Italian company Borini Prono.

Detailing the magnitude of the construction to be carried out and the reason repairs will last for 27 months,Fashola said the project will involve the replacement of 33 piles at the first phase. A total of 177 piles would be strengthened in all and expansion joints linking the bridge together would be assessed with a view to replacing the obsolete ones.

Happenings in other lands

Government’s commitment to ensure the wellbeing of the bridge was validated with the recent collapse of the Genoa Morandi Bridge in Italy early in the month.

Eleven years ago, an eight-land interstate highway bridge over the Mississippi River also collapsed in Minneapolis, killing 13 people.

The Financial Times asserted after the Genoa disaster that Italy officials knew of the impending disaster six months before it collapsed but did nothing to limit traffic on the sick bridge.

Like Morandi bridge, which killed at least 38 people, the Minneapolis bridge was opened in 1967.

Just as the US National Transportation Safety Board concluded that a design flaw in the bridge had contributed to its collapse in 2007, so are Italian prosecutors investigating whether the Genoa disaster was not as a result of a similar cause. In each case, the volume of traffic passing over the bridge in the years before its collapsed was much greater than had been foreseen during its construction in the 1960s.

Similar trend, especially in traffic volume, which was fingered in the above instances has started manifesting on the third Mainland Bridge.

While the volume of vehicles at the point of construction was less than 10,000 vehicle count on the Third Mainland Bridge, as at August it is said to be close to 700,000 per day.

Disclosing this last week, Salaam said: “On the average, 652,800 vehicles use the bridge daily”, a development which makes remedial work on the bridge extremely imperative to prevent its collapse.

The $1 billion bridge completed in 1990, and reputed as the second longest bridge in Africa and the longest in West Africa, began to exhibit signs of stress in 2006, when commuters began to report that the bridge was vibrating. Remedial works began on different portions of the bridge, leading to partial closures at different times in 2007 and 2008, while a maintenance work was carried out in 2012.

The Director of Highways and Bridges in the Federal Ministry of Works, Adetokunbo Shogbesan, assured that the maintenance test on the Third Mainland Bridge is aimed at giving a comprehensive facelift to the bridge.

He said most of the bridges in the state, built by the Federal Government have between 50 to 60 years lifespan. “If these bridges are better maintained, and human abuses are minimized, they could last even longer.

Comparing the government’s response to what happened in Italy, Shogbesan said the Italian government neglected maintenance culture. They failed to carry out regular integrity test, which the Nigerian government continued to carry out from time to time.

“We will continue to assure Nigerians that the government is committed to ensuring that integrity tests will continue on all the bridges every five to 10 years, while we would continue to appeal to the government to help ensure that dead weights on the bridges are evacuated before they endanger the wellbeing of the bridges.”

Salaam confirmed that the Federal Government has continued to carry out routine maintenance of all its bridge assets in the state. He said Eko Bridge, which was the oldest, construction of which started in 1950, the Carter Bridge and the Lekki-Ikoyi Bridge, are all in stable shape.

He assured Lagosians that the government is working on a multi-pronged approached aimed at evacuating the trailers and tankers off the roads and bridges, to a much organised holding bay, from where they would move upon a call up system to Apapa to either lift petroleum products or drop their empty containers.

After the trailers were evacuated from the bridges, the government, he said, would conduct a comprehensive audit of wellbeing on all the bridges to know the impact of these dead weights on them as well as carry out comprehensive repair needed to keep them fit again.

The Commissioner for Transportation Ladi Lawanson, who thanked Lagosians for their perseverance, said the government would continue to work in their collective interest.

He disclosed that the government is determined to promote waterway transportation, adding that concrete actions would begin to manifest on the waterways in the next two years.

He said government is dredging its waterways, cleaning the waterways of all ship wrecks, charting water routes, and bringing in new boats. He disclosed that discussion is at advanced stage with investors to commence commercial passenger operation on the waterways.

“The Lagos State Government is determined to shift attention from the roads to the waterways. In the next two years, Lagosians would begin to see our actions in this direction, as all negotiations would have crystallised and begin to manifest,” Lawanson said.

Though both governments, still kept the date of actual repair work on the bridge under wraps, it is almost certain that it would not occur until the trailers and tankers that had seized the bridges were moved out of the roads to holding bays.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Economy

Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

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Farm input

Stop Maize, Soybean Export to Reduce Scarcity – NIAL

The Nigerian Institute of Animal Science on Tuesday called on the Federal Government to halt the continued export of maize and soybean to reduce the scarcity of the commodities as well curb their price hike in Nigeria.

Registrar and Chief Executive Officer, NIAL, Prof. Eustance Iyayi, told journalists in Abuja that the poultry sector was currently hit by the severe scarcity of maize and soybean.

This, he said, was due to the continued export of the commodities, the COVID-19 pandemic, which had disorganised the international supply chain, lingering insecurity in the North-East, farmers/herders conflict and flooding in some parts of the country.

“Maize and soybean are being exported and this has exacerbated the situation leading to local scarcity and price escalation of the commodities in poultry production,” Iyayi stated.

He added, “The increasing prices of the essential commodities has resulted in the increase in price of finished feeds by about 75 per cent.

“This has led to the closure of small and medium sized poultry farms thereby threatening about 10 million jobs as a result of this scarcity.

“To set the poultry industry from total collapse, the institute urges the government to immediately halt the exportation of soybean and maize and grant import permit to importers at the official foreign exchange rate.”

Iyayi said there was shortage of soybean in Nigeria and other countries, stressing that the little amount being produced across the country should not be exported.

He said the current maize yield of about one to two tonnes per hectare being produced in Nigeria would not be enough to sustain the country.

The NIAL helmsman stated that the country should be producing between seven and 10 tonnes per hectare in order to meet the requirements for humans and animals.

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Economy

Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

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stakeholders

Petrol Landing Cost Jumps to N186, Oil Hits $64

Against the backdrop of the rising price of oil prices, the landing cost of Premium Motor Spirit (petrol) imported into Nigeria has increased to N186.33 per litre.

Investors King had exclusively reported on February 9 that the landing cost of PMS rose to about N180 per litre on February 5 from N158.53 per litre on January 7.

Crude oil price accounts for a large chunk of the final cost of petrol, and the deregulation of petrol price by the Federal Government last year means that the pump price of the product will reflect changes in the international oil market.

Going by the petrol pricing template of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, the landing cost of petrol rose to N186.33 per litre on February 16, with the pump price of the product expected to be N209.33 per litre.

The international oil benchmark, Brent crude, closed at $63.96 per barrel on February 16, up from $59.34 per barrel on February 5.

The rising price of crude oil pushed the cost of petrol quoted on Platts to $560.75 per metric tonne (N163.08 per litre, using N390/$1) on February 16 from $543.25 per metric tonne (N157.99 per litre) on February 5.

Other cost elements that make up the landing cost include freight (N10.29), lightering expenses (N4.57), insurance cost (N0.25), Nigerian Ports Authority charge (N2.38), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency charge (N0.23), jetty throughput charge (N1.61), storage charge (N2.58), and financing (N1.33).

The freight cost increased to $35.41 per MT (N10.29 per litre) last Wednesday from $30.04 per MT (N8.74 per litre) on February 5.

The pump price is the sum of the landing cost, wholesale margin and the distribution margins. The wholesale margin is N4.03 while the distribution margins comprise transporters allowance (N3.89), retailer (N6.19), bridging fund (N7.51), marine transport average (N0.15), and admin charge (N1.23).

Apart from the changes in global crude oil prices, the exchange rate of naira to the dollar also affects the cost of imported petrol.

The cost of petrol would be higher if the 410/$1 rate at which the naira closed on Monday at the Investors’ and Exporters’ Foreign Exchange Window was used. The naira closed at 480/$1 at the parallel market.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, which has been the sole importer of petrol into the country in recent years, is still being relied upon by marketers for the supply of the product despite the deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector.

Oil marketers said recently that they were ready to resume importation of petrol if the foreign exchange was made available to them at a competitive rate.

“The discussion we should be having today is how best to maximise the benefits of the removal of price controls and subsidies while minimising the adverse effects of this action on our citizens,” the Chairman, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Mr Adetunji Oyebanji, said at a virtual press briefing.

Brent crude, against which Nigeria’s oil is priced, rose by $1.67 to $64.58 per barrel as of 6:08pm Nigerian time on Monday.

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Economy

FG to Lift 100 Million People Out of Poverty With Gas Expansion Project

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Gas Plant

FG to Lift 100 Million People Out of Poverty With Gas Expansion Project

The Federal Government has said about 100 million Nigerians will be lifted out of poverty through the National Gas Expansion Programme (NGEP).

The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, disclosed this on Monday during the inauguration of the NGEP in Ado Ekiti, Southwest.

Sylva said the project was “a practical demonstration of President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to lift 100 million Nigerians out of poverty by using gas value chain as catalyst for social and economic development in Nigeria”.

The minister said, “The programme has its main objective to reinforce and expand gas supply as well as stimulate demand in Nigeria through effective and efficient mobilisation and utilisation of all available assets, resources and infrastructure in the country.

“The programme is geared towards the implementation of Mr President June 12, 2019 promise to take hundred million Nigerians out of poverty within the current decade by ensuring that locally produced, available, accessible and affordable fuel is sufficiently supplied across the country”.

Sylva added that Nigeria was richly endowed with mineral resources, specifically, hydrocarbons, crude oil and natural gas with proven gas reserves of over 200 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, which he said had presented the country with opportunity to use gas as a catalyst for social economy renaissance.

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