Sunday, February 25, 2018

Cross River State House Of Assembly Passes N1.3tn 2018 Budget

Cross River State Governor, Ben Ayade
 
The Cross River State House of Assembly has passed the 2018 Appropriation Bill of N1.3 trillion presented by Governor Ben Ayade.
The budget, tagged Budget of Kinetic Crystallisation, was presented to the House of Assembly by the governor on November 30, 2017.
Presenting the report of the Budget before the House, Mr Jonas Eteng-Williams, Chairman of Finance and Appropriation Committee, said that the Assembly interfaced with various Ministries, Departments and Agencies before considering the passage of the budget.
Eteng said that the MDA’s in the state appeared before the relevant House committees to defend their budget, adding the Assembly was thorough during the budget defence.
According to Eteng-Williams, the budget was designed by the state governor to promote infrastructural and economic development in the state.
A breakdown of the budget shows that the sum of N4.4billion was budgeted for Carnival Commission with a view to enable the commission organise a successful carnival in 2018.
The sum of N108.5bn had been estimated for recurrent revenue, while recurrent expenditure is N136.6billion and personnel cost pegged at N34billion respective and for Agriculture, the sum of N10.9billion has also been budgeted for the sector.
The Speaker of the House of Assembly, John Gaul-Lebo, said the budget when fully implemented would accelerate speedy urban and rural development in the state.
“The governor has transformed Cross River from a civil service state to an economic hub. We must all join our hands and give him the necessary support to do more,” the Speaker said.
He lauded Ayade for the prompt payment of workers’ salaries and for the numerous political appointments given to the youths in the state.
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Indigenous Firms Plan To Increase Oil Output

File photo
 
Data from the Ministry of Petroleum Resources has shown that indigenous oil producers are planning to increase crude oil output by almost 250,000 barrels a day by 2020.
This comes despite efforts by the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) and Russia to restrict oil supply and raise prices.
Nigeria’s third-biggest independent oil producer, Shoreline Group, plans to double output by December 2019.
On its parts, the country’s second-largest oil producer Seplat Petroleum Development Company plans to produce more.
However, the report suggests that the expansion depends on several factors including the tranquillity being maintained in the Niger Delta region.
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Inflation Drops To 15.1%, 13th Consecutive Month Since January

For the 13th consecutive month since January 2017, Nigeria’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) has eased further.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in its “Customer Price Index January 2018” released on Wednesday, February 14 in Abuja said Nigeria’s CPI dropped to about 15.13 percent in January 2018.
The rate was 15.37 percent in December 2017.
The CPI in January 2018 according to the report, therefore, dropped by 0.24 percent points from the rate recorded in December.
NBS in the report said on a month-on-month basis, the NBS Headline index increased by 0.80 percent in January 2018, or about 0.21 percent points higher from the rate of 0.59 percent recorded in December 2017.
“The Consumer Price Index which measures inflation started the year 2018 increasing by 15.13 per cent year-on-year in January 2018.
“This was 0.24 per cent points lower than the rate recorded in December (15.37 per cent) making it the twelfth consecutive slowdown in the inflation rate though still positive in headline year on year inflation since January 2017.”
The data also shows that the annual food price index and food price pressure continued into December though generally at a slower pace year-on-year.
The Food Index stood at about 18.92 percent (year-on-year) in January 2017, down from the rate recorded in December (19.42 percent).
The implication of this is that Nigerian consumers were paying less for food during the month than they did in the previous month.
On a month-on-month basis, the food sub-index according to the report was about 0.87 percent in January 2018, down by 0.29 percent from 0.58 percent recorded in December.
“In January 2018, food inflation on a year on year basis was highest in Kwara (24.46%), Nasarawa (22.77%) and Bayelsa (22.60%), while Bauchi (13.34%), Anambra (14.63%) and Benue (14.78% recorded the slowest rise in food inflation.
On a month on month basis, however, January 2018 food inflation was highest in Bayelsa (3.47%), Kogi (3.38%) and Nasarawa (2.26%), while Cross River, Kebbi. Yobe, Anambra and Delta all recorded food price deflation or negative inflation (general decrease in the general price level of goods and services or a negative inflation rate) in January 2018,” the report read in part.
The highest increases were recorded in prices of fuel and lubricants for personal transport and transport equipment, vehicle spare parts, accommodation services, maintenance and repair of personal transport equipment, appliances articles and products for personal care.
Other services include hotels and restaurants, hairdressing salons and personal grooming establishments, clothing materials and other articles of clothing, garments, non-durable household goods and solid fuels.
Urban inflation according to the data also rose by 15.56 percent in January 2018 from 16.78 percent in December 2017, compared with the rural inflation rate, which declined by 14.76 percent in January 2018 from 15.02 percent in December 2017.
 
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FG Has Resolved Legal Issues At Ajaokuta Steel Company – Osinbajo

 
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said that the Federal Government has resolved all legal issues that have halted operations at the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
He made this known in Kogi State on Tuesday during the State Economic and Investment Summit in 2018.
Work seems to have been grounded in the national steel company that has gulped billions of naira by successive administrations since Nigeria returned to democracy in 1999.
“We have now resolved the legal issues holding down work in Ajaokuta at the Ajaokuta steel complex, just as the Honourable Minister has said,” Professor Osinbajo told the audience at the summit.
He is of the view that Kogi plays a strategic role in the country for being the largest producer of cashew and also in rice production in the country.
The Vice President further commended the state governor, Mr Yahaya Bello, for bringing out a 30-year long-term development plan.
He reiterated the support of the Federal Government to the state as he highlights some of the state’s roles in the central region of the country.
“Our recognition of Kogi is not misplaced – your host to the biggest steel industry in Nigeria, the Ajaokuta Steel Company, and one of the largest cement factories in Africa, the Dangote Cement Company in Obajana, and also the highly prolific Jakura marble factory,” said Osinbajo.
In his earlier remarks, the Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, explained why people perceive work had been abandoned at the Ajaokuta Steel Company.
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Cuba Plans To End Dual Currency System

A Cuban worker shows 1 CUP (Cuban pesos – top) and 1 CUC (Cuban convertible pesos – bottom) in Havana on February 8, 2018. Adalberto ROQUE / AFP
 
For more than two decades, Cubans have used a unique dual currency system to protect a fragile economy, but with just weeks of his mandate remaining, President Raul Castro has signalled much-delayed change is finally coming.
Plans to scrap the divisive system were first mooted in 2003 as part of a series of market-oriented reforms introduced by Castro, who is due to step down in April.
Now, after years of delays, authorities on the Caribbean island are finally expected to bite the bullet and begin consolidating the two currencies, despite fears of a shock to the economy.
“This issue has taken us too long and it cannot be delayed any longer,” Castro said in a speech in December.
The government has resisted any commitment to a timetable, but many observers believe a meeting of the Central Committee of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC) next month will finally set the process in motion.
The country has had two currencies since 1994 when it introduced the Cuban Convertible Peso or CUC — alongside the Cuban Peso, the CUP — as part of measures to protect the economy in the wake of the collapse of its biggest sponsor, the Soviet Union.
The CUC, originally used exclusively for foreign trade and in the tourism industry before gradually seeping into the normal economy, is worth about 25 times the CUP and pegged to the dollar.
The dual currencies created a two-tier class system in Cuba, which favoured those with access to the lucrative tourism sector through hotels, restaurants and foreign trade.
– Two currencies, two labels –
Prices are labelled in both currencies: a small can of cola costs 1 CUC or 25 CUP. Whether you pay with one or the other “it’s the same thing, a bottle of oil costs the same either way,” said 68-year-old retiree Marlen Leyva.
With the CUC, the state allows its companies to import at a preferential exchange rate — a dollar for a Cuban peso. The distortion allows state entities to ensure their margins while offering the public affordable prices in a country where the average monthly salary is around $30.
But the current system masks inefficiencies in the state sector, economists say.
“The monetary duality is causing difficulties to evaluate the economy and competitiveness,” said economist Omar Everleny Perez, citing a complicated relationship with international markets, already hampered by a US trade embargo in place since 1962.
Cuba has said that the original national peso would remain and the CUC would be consigned to history.
The head of Cuba’s reform commission, Marino Murillo, said in December a group of 200 specialists were working on the issue and the that “the convertible peso would be phased out,” without giving further details.
The European Union, which oversaw the conversion of a number of European currencies to the euro, has offered to assist the Havana government with the delicate move.
In preparation for the change, 200, 500 and 1000 CUP bills were issued in 2015 to facilitate less cumbersome payments. Even so, a refrigerator which costs anything from 700 CUC in Cuba officially has to be paid in local currency, or 17,500 CUP.
Consolidation will complicate life for state firms, which account for 85 percent of the economy. Economists predict importers will see their costs rise and transfer them to the final consumer, generating a hike in inflation.
It will benefit state exporters, who will see a surge in their earnings.
 – ‘Gradual reform’ –
Theoretically, state-owned enterprises will have to import at a “normal” exchange rate, but many economists believe that Havana will not have enough foreign reserves to sustain it.
On the other hand, in the new system the few Cuban businesses exporting abroad would receive more Cuban pesos, and could partly offset the impact on the economy.
“The sectors that benefit could be in a position to pay better wages, but companies that are penalized should close or merge,” said leading economist Pavel Vidal.
And the fear of higher prices could cause excess demand, difficult to accommodate on an island that imports 80 percent of what it consumes, said Perez, who anticipates imbalances in the short term.
For Perez and other economists, that is a worrying prospect when the “libreta” — the ration book — no longer covers a family’s monthly needs.
Perez said it is essential the government supports the reform by increasing openness to foreign investment and the public sector, in order to stimulate foreign exchange inflows and increase purchasing power.
Foreign companies had already positioned themselves to take advantage of the shift, “because they do not really care about the American embargo,” he said.
AFP
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Al-Makura Signs 2018 Budget

The Nasarawa state governor Tanko Al-Makura, has signed the 2018 Appropriation Bill.
The budget which signed into law on Monday was tagged ‘Budget of sustainable development’ with a promise to ensure full implementation.
The budget which was N122 billion and reviewed to N125 billion by the lawmakers is to meet aspirations and yearnings of the people.
After the budget signing, the governor commended the lawmakers for expeditious deliberation on the bill and expressed optimism that the bill will go a long way in helping the people.
 
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Presidency’s Intervention Saved Nigeria’s Ease Of Doing Business – Oduwole

 
The Special Adviser to President Muhammadu Buhari on Trade and Investment, Mrs Jumoke Oduwole, has explained how Buhari-led administration played a huge role in saving the nation’s business index.
Oduwole, on Monday, was as a guest on Channels Television’s Breakfast Programme, Sunrise Daily.
She said the presidency, using a systemic approach made Nigeria’s economy competitive, thereby booking the global ranking of the nation’s economy.
“This administration has had a systemic approach to making this economy competitive. We have been 145 before, we started from 106 then last decade we went on a free fall consistently going backwards.
“When this administration came in 2015, we started immediately on this project and we were able to stem the tide. The first thing was that we stopped going backward, then we had a systemic approach chaired by the presidency,” she said.
Oduwole said further that the strategic plan initiated by the Federal Government upon assuming office in 2015 led to the improvement in the country’s global business index.
She explained that this involves a collaboration of some ministers, some lawmakers, the Head of Civil Service and the private sector.
“And that political will with coordination of over 10 ministers, Central Bank Governor, Head of Civil Service and then later, high-level National Assembly representation, Lagos and Kano states and of course private sector,” she added.
Recalling that Nigeria was judged the top 10 economies in the world on the ease of doing business last year, she, however, attributed the feat to the sincerity and commitment shown by the presidency.
According to her, statistics show an improvement of the country’s ranking 24 positions up as against the previous position of 169 to 145 is an indication that President Muhammadu Buhari is sincere with the economic recovery.
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NNPC To Distribute Two Cargoes Of Petrol Daily In February

File photo
 
The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) says it has programmed to bring in two cargoes of petrol per day for the rest of February to boost supply.
NNPC Group General Manager, Group Public Affairs Division, Mr Ndu Ughamadu, disclosed this in a statement issued by him on Thursday in Abuja.
He said the decision was part of the measures taken to keep Nigeria wet with petrol and eradicate the fuel queues that have resurfaced in some cities.
According to Ughamadu, each of the two cargoes is 50 million litres, making a total of 100 million litres that will be brought in per day for the rest of the month to increase supply and replenish strategic reserves.
In a bid to enhance fuel supply, he revealed that 45 million litres of petrol were discharged from ships into jetties across the country on Wednesday.
“Prior to the fresh 45 million litres discharge, there were 324 million litres of petrol on land and 432 million litres in marine storage, making a total of 756 million litres – enough to last for 22 days at 35 million daily consumption rate,” the statement said.
The jetties that received the 45 million litres shipments include Nacj, Apapa; Bop, Apapa; Techo Jetty, Lagos; Dutchess, Oghara; Vine Jetty, Calabar; Chipet Jetty, Lagos; and ECM Jetty, Calabar.
The NNPC spokesman also revealed steps taken by the corporation to ensure efficient distribution of petrol to depots in the hinterland.
In addition to massive trucking arrangement already in place, he said the Nigerian Pipeline and Storage Company (NPSC), a midstream subsidiary of the NNPC, has been mandated to fix relevant pipelines to facilitate seamless pumping.
The corporation has assured Nigerians that with the measures in place, the fuel queues being experienced in some cities would soon be a thing of the past.
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Twitter Delivers First Quarter Profit

Twitter Inc (TWTR.N) shares surged 22 percent at the market open on Thursday after it reported its first quarterly profit and better-than-expected revenue, helped by ads that better-targeted users and sales growth outside the United States.
Investors shrugged off zero growth in Twitter’s users from a quarter earlier, which the company blamed in part on seasonal weakness and its purge of fake and spam accounts.
Shares hit $35 in morning trading, their highest level since July 2015. Twitter debuted as a public company in 2013 at $26 a share.
“The revenue number was up year-over-year for the first time in several quarters, which is a good sign,” analyst Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities said, adding that flat growth in monthly users from a quarter earlier was nonetheless a warning sign.
Twitter’s previous inability to turn a profit or turn out consistent revenue growth had confounded investors given the company’s ubiquitous presence in the media and popularity among celebrities, athletes and politicians such as U.S. President Donald Trump.
In October Twitter had signaled it could turn a quarterly profit as it slashed expenses. Revenue and adjusted fourth-quarter profit both topped analysts’ targets.
Overall revenue rose 2 percent year-over-year to $731.6 million, the first increase since the fourth quarter of 2016, beating Wall Street’s target of $686.1 million, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
U.S. revenue fell 8 percent from a year earlier, but sales elsewhere rose 17 percent. Revenue from Japan was a particular strength, rising 34 percent to $106 million.
Twitter said revenue was helped by better ad targeting that raised clickthrough rates, or the ratio of users who click on a specific ad to the number that view it, and higher video ad sales.
The company also continued a push to grow its non-advertising revenue. It reported $87 million in data licensing and other revenue, up 10 percent from a year earlier, outpacing advertising revenue which rose 1 percent to $644 million.
Twitter reported a net profit of $91.1 million, or 12 cents per share, compared to a loss of $167.1 million, or 23 cents per share, a year earlier.
Adjusted profit was 19 cents per share, topping analysts expectations of 14 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
The company said it expects “to be GAAP profitable for the full year 2018,” referring to generally accepted accounting principles.
Twitter reported 330 million monthly active users for the quarter, a 4 percent increase from a year earlier but flat from the third quarter.
Analysts on average had expected 332.5 million monthly active users, according to financial data and analytics firm FactSet.
San Francisco-based Twitter said usage was hurt by seasonal weakness and a change that Apple Inc (AAPL.O) made to its Safari web browser that reduced the tally of users by 2 million. Twitter had warned investors about the factors in October.
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MTN To Raise $500m Nigeria Share Sale In 2018

Telecoms giant, MTN Group Ltd. has announced plans to raise about 500 million dollars from the sale of shares in Nigeria during the first half of 2018.
Most of the shares will be sold to local institutions and individuals, though foreign investors could be brought in to ensure the process is a success.
If successful, the Lagos share sale will be the biggest on the Nigerian Stock Exchange after Starcomms Plc, which raised $796 million when it listed in 2008, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
MTN had 230.2 million subscribers in 22 countries across Africa and the Middle East as of the end of September, with Nigeria, Iran and South Africa its three biggest markets.
The company has also agreed to sell shares in Ghana as one of the conditions of a deal to gain spectrum rights, while Vodacom Group Ltd., South Africa’s market leader, was ordered to list 25 percent of its Tanzanian business last year, raising $213 million.
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Los Angeles Times To Be Sold To Local Billionaire

The Los Angeles Times building is seen on February 6, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Parent company, Tronc, is believed to be close to selling The Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune to billionaire Los Angeles doctor, Patrick Soon-Shiong. PHOTO:DAVID MCNEW / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
The Los Angeles Times is being sold to billionaire physician and investor Patrick Soon-Shiong in a move aimed at reviving the fortunes of the newspaper amid recent turmoil.
Publishing group Tronc Inc. said it reached a deal to sell the LA Times and San Diego Union-Tribune to Soon-Shiong’s Nant Capital for $500 million plus the assumption of $90 million in pension liabilities.
The move comes after months of newsroom unrest at the storied Los Angeles daily that has seen three editors in the past six months, and a vote to unionize the journalists.
“We are pleased to transition leadership of the Los Angeles Times and The San Diego Union-Tribune to local ownership, and we are certain that the journalistic excellence in Southern California will continue long into the future,” said Justin Dearborn, chief executive of Tronc, the name adopted for the group previously known as Tribune Publishing.
Soon-Shiong, a South African-born surgeon whose biotech investments have boosted his net worth to some $7.8 billion, said in the statement: “We look forward to continuing the great tradition of award-winning journalism carried out by the reporters and editors of the Los Angeles Times, The San Diego Union-Tribune and the other California News Group titles.”
The LA Times, like many newspapers, has been downsizing its staff as readers turn away from print to online news platforms.
The Los Angeles daily was family-owned for more than a century before being sold to the Chicago-based Tribune Co. in 2000.
Tribune Co., which split off its broadcast division and renamed its publishing arm Tronc (for Tribune Online Content), will continue to own the Chicago Tribune, Orlando Sentinel, South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Baltimore Sun and the New York Daily News.
Soon-Shiong, born in South Africa to Chinese parents, also owns a stake in the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. He has been a faculty member at the UCLA medical school and has invested in and donated to medical research.
AFP
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Bitcoin Drops Below $6,200 For First Time In Three Months

 
Bitcoin plunged 20 percent to a three-month low on Tuesday, its latest sharp loss following a series of setbacks for the cryptocurrency that, with a collapse across global mainstream markets adding to the selling.
The virtual currency fell to $6,190 for the first time since mid-November, according to Bloomberg News, and represents the latest hammering for a unit that saw a stratospheric 26-fold rise last year.
Tuesday’s collapse comes just six weeks after bitcoin hit a record high of $19,511, fuelled by a flood of speculators looking to make a quick buck, with warnings it could fall another 50 percent.
Since those heady days the cryptomarket — which includes dozens of other units — has been pounded by news of crackdowns by governments including in China, Russia and South Korea, one of the biggest markets for the sector.
On Thursday, India said it would “take all measures to eliminate” cryptocurrencies’ use as part of a payment system and in funding illegitimate activities, while Japanese authorities raided a virtual currency exchange after it lost $530 million to hackers.
Central bank in Europe, Japan and the United States have also flagged concerns about the unit and this week saw several commercial lenders say they would stop allowing their customers to buy bitcoin through their credit cards owing to debt concerns.
Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia Pacific at Oanda, said “the dynamics behind the moves are regulatory clampdowns and investors losing confidence in crypto”.
The sell-off on Tuesday was exacerbated by crushing losses on world stock markets, with the Dow on Wall Street suffering its biggest one-day points loss and wiping out all its 2018 gains.
The global rout comes as panicked investors fret over rising US borrowing costs, leading them to cash in profits after a stellar couple of months that have seen many indexes hit record or all-time highs.
Equities have enjoyed months of surges fuelled by optimism over the US economy, corporate earnings and the global outlook.
But while traders have been piling into equities, pushing many global indexes to record or multi-year highs, there has been growing concern on trading floors about elevated US Treasury bond yields — at four-year highs — and the likelihood of fresh Federal Reserve interest rate hikes.
“The risk-off tone is hitting Bitcoin almost as hard as a global regulator and bank scrutiny,” said Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at AxiTrader. “The latest dent to the Cryptospace has been banks saying they are shutting down the ability of clients to buy bitcoin with their cards.”
“This could end up a full round trip back into the $1,850/$2,966 region.”
AFP
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Heavy Snow Disrupts Flights, Classes In Spain

People with umbrellas walk at ‘El Retiro’ park in Madrid during a snowfall on February 5, 2018. More than 40 flights were cancelled in Madrid and tens of thousands of school children around Spain had to skip class today as snow fell heavily on much of the country.GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Some 70 flights were cancelled in Madrid and tens of thousands of schoolchildren around Spain had to skip class Monday as snow fell heavily over much of the country.
The airport in the Spanish capital was forced to close two of its four runways, leading to the cancellation of 70 flights, a spokeswoman for airport management company Aena told AFP.
The runways were reopened later in the day, she said.
In the central region of Castilla-La Mancha, more than 38,000 students stayed home as schools and bus routes were closed, the regional government said.
In other regions in Spain’s northwest and northeast, several thousand schoolchildren also avoided class because of the snow.
Railway lines and roads across the country were also closed due to the weather.
This is just the latest snow-induced disruption to hit Spain.
Last month, authorities deployed 250 soldiers to help rescue thousands of people trapped in their vehicles by heavy snow on a highway near Madrid.
AFP
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Dow Sheds 450 Points As US Stock Sell-Off Deepens

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on February 5, 2018 in New York City.  SPENCER PLATT / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
 
Wall Street stocks fell sharply for a second straight session Monday with the Dow losing about 450 points amid worries over rising US interest rates.
Near 1840 GMT, the Dow Jones Industrial Average had lost 1.7 percent to 25,090.48.
The broad-based S&P 500 fell 1.5 percent to 2,721.58, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index sank 1.0 percent to 7,17052.
After streaking to numerous records in the first three weeks of the year, US stocks last week began to pull back. And Friday’s strong jobs report contributed to the sell-off amid rising concern the US Federal Reserve will accelerate the pace of interest rate hikes this year.
JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist of TD Ameritrade, said the key question as the pullback moved into its second week was whether investors would step in to purchase stocks at depressed values.
Investors have done this for than a year, each time a price decline offered bargain prices, preventing any major correction.
“We’re finally getting the (long-discussed) five percent drop,” Kinahan said. “Do the people who buy the dip come in again?”
A catalyst for the decline over the last week or so has been the rise in US Treasury bond yields.
AFP
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The Gridlock Hurting Business At Nigeria’s Busiest Port

The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala-Usman poses for a photo on January 31, 2018. The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has issued the Federal Government of Nigeria an ultimatum that all workers across the country’s ports will go on strike unless the access roads leading in and out of the ports in Lagos are cleared of trucks blocking the roads.  Stefan HEUNIS / AFP
Even okadas, the motorcycle-taxis that buzz fearlessly around Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, struggle to negotiate the road to Apapa — the country’s busiest seaport.
Riders pick their way gingerly around giant potholes that resemble blast craters, and among the lines of stationary trucks perched at precarious angles on the rutted surface.
Getting to and from Apapa — the catch-all name for Lagos’ two seaports of Apapa and Tin Can Island — has increasingly become a nightmare for pretty much everyone.
Now, with the chronic traffic jams hurting business and no sign of any swift resolution to the problem, labour unrest is looming large on the horizon.
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has given the federal government an ultimatum: fix the roads or face an indefinite walk-out.
MWUN leader Adewale Adeyanju said an open-ended strike by its members would paralyse port activities but they had no alternative.
“The road is now a safe haven for criminals, who use every opportunity to attack, assault and rob innocent Nigerians, including our members, who trek to and from work daily on the road, because it is no longer motorable,” he told AFP.
As well as security, he said shipping companies and businesses were increasingly using alternative berths such as those in Cotonou, in neighbouring Benin.
“While our neighbouring ports are booming, our ports have been deserted because of the failed access roads to the ports, the gateway to the nation’s economy,” said Adeyanju.
Businesses hurt 
Union leaders are due to meet the labour minister in Abuja on Tuesday. But it’s possible that even then, oil tanker drivers like John Chinedu will still be waiting on the dilapidated highway.
“We have been at this same spot for the last four days and we’ve not been able to enter the port,” he said.
Chinedu, though, is a recent arrival compared to Lekan Yinusa.
“It’s been two weeks since we arrived in Lagos to help an importer carry his container that has been lying in the port for several weeks,” he said.
“But we have not been able to because of the bad condition of the road. I go to the toilet, wash and even eat over there,” he added, pointing to the side of the road.
The dismal state of the roads is all the more astonishing for a port that handles more than 60 percent of Nigeria’s cargo and generates some 70 percent of customs revenue.
In 2017, duties totalled more than one trillion naira ($2.8 billion, 2.2 billion euros) — up from just under 900 billion naira the previous year.
Jonathan Nicol, a Lagos-based importer, said the condition of the roads has had a knock-on effect on business, and spiralling costs had forced some to shut down.
“We are forced to pay extra charges and demurrage (when a ship’s owner pays a penalty for not loading or discharging in time), which is not the fault of importers,” he added.
“Manufacturers cannot get their raw materials on time. The delay leads to extra port charges which will be passed on to the final consumers in terms of high prices.”
Fuel depot congestion 
Shipping executive Lukman Busari said Apapa’s chronic traffic jams were not helped by the location of fuel depots around the ports.
“There are over 200 farm tanks with thousands of trucks waiting to load petroleum products at the ports, thereby creating gridlock on the roads,” he said.
“To decongest the roads, the railway should be developed while pipeline distribution of petroleum product should be considered.”
The managing director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, acknowledged the grievances, which come as Nigeria looks to boost growth after months of recession.
“There is no doubt that the deplorable state of the roads at Apapa is hurting businesses. We are not happy about the situation,” she said.
The NPA last year contributed 1.8 billion naira for road repairs and was pushing the government to do further work, despite it not being in the authority’s remit.
“We are ready to do it because of its importance to our operations,” she said, appealing to port users to bear with the authorities while the facilities are improved.
“We have to adopt a multi-transportational approach to move cargo to and from the ports.
“Right now, over 90 percent of cargo is moved through the roads, which is not too ideal. There is need to develop the railway and inland waterways as well.”
AFP
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