By Adedapo Adesanya
The Lagos State Government has signed an agreement for the establishment of a new motor assembly plant to commence full operation in a bid to boost the profile of transportation in the state.
This was disclosed at the commissioning of 1,000 taxi units under a new taxi scheme tagged Lagos Ride aimed to revitalise commuting experience on road transportation across Lagos metropolis.
The new development, which has a projected incubation period of 12 and 18 months for the maturity of the taxi scheme and the motor assembly Plant respectively, is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement between CIG Motors Company Ltd and the Ibile Holdings Ltd, an agency of the state government.
Under the scheme, the drivers who will be the operators will be given branded GS3, GAC Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) for a period of four years within which it is expected that on a monthly basis, they would have a check-up dues to effect payment in instalment within the stipulated period.
The state government noted that it will increase the capacity of the Taxi scheme from the initial 1,000 to about 5,000 to 7,500 units within a short period of time.
It was also gathered that to unveil a subsequent scheme with larger coverage which will make provision for large capacity intervention for small and mass transit buses.
Speaking at the event, the Governor of the state, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu, noted that the project was an innovative policy of his administration in the bid to enhance the state’s vision of developing a multimodal transportation system and to strengthen the state’s economy
According to him, the effort is channelled according to the administration’s hope targeted at “making life a lot easier for Lagosians including mobility and creating a seamless multimodal transport system.”
“Remember again that in our THEMES Agenda, the first pillar is traffic management and transportation and we will continue to advocate and promise an integrated multimodal transportation system,” he said.
Further, he noted that the assembly plant upon completion will be productive in boosting the state’s economy while creating new channels of employment opportunities.
“It is, therefore, even more heartwarming to note that the Lagos State taxi scheme is being decorated along with the signing agreement of the establishment of a vehicle assembling plant in Lagos; a project that we believe will create jobs.
“We believe it will accelerate socio-economic growth and will further put our state on the global map as a centre of excellence and modern megacity that is committed to sustainable development.
“As a people-oriented government, we are constantly on our toes thinking of ways to make Lagos a lot more habitable and create opportunities for our residents and citizens and we are initiating and implementing ideas to make life better for more Lagosians and to achieve our dream of a greater Lagos,” he said.
Stating that his government is committed to making Lagos metropolis a major hub of a megacity status, Governor Sanwo-Olu stressed that having a world-class transportation system is significant according to the envisioning of the THEMES Agenda.
“We are working on the rails, waterways, and we will continue to work on road infrastructure. We are guided by the need for an equitable transportation system with choices for our citizens.
“So, this Taxi Scheme to be known as ‘Lagos Ride’ which is being commissioned today, is in fulfilment of our desire to give Lagosians a transportation choice.
“It is one of the Lagos State socio-economic intervention programme. The modern ride service will be professionally managed in line with the global best practice. The seed for this transaction is that we are doing the first 1,000 taxis which we will be handing over once they all arrive at all of our well-trained drivers.
“It is a social intervention programme that is tailored at ensuring that we can eradicate poverty, provide jobs opportunities for our citizens as well as provide basic necessities that they need to make life a lot more bearable.
“We believe that it is a partnership that would work. We believe that our citizens require this and we believe that the employment that we are creating and generating from this will be second to none.
“So, this scheme is a partnership with CIG motors who are also establishing a motor assembly plant here in Lagos for the production of different classes of vehicles.
“We believe that the establishment of the motor assembly plant is expected to revive industrialisation, increase citizens employment and create wealth for us. It will certainly boost tourism, encourage technology sharing and adaptation, and advancement among our citizens,” he said.
According to him, this will ensure that such vehicle production and taxi system are such that are competitive with the best global standards.
“This is our very modest intervention to recreate the Lagos of our dream and bring it to fruition,” he added.
According to the state’s Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Frederick Oladeinde, the scheme, which is a form of social intervention programme operated by a private entity, will produce benefits that will significantly boost the profile of socio-economic and technological activities in the Lagos metropolis.
In her remark, the Chairman, CIG Motors Company Ltd, Mrs Diana Chen, described the new development as a product of a business tour of China by Governor Sanwo-Olu in 2019.
Assuring full commitment to make the partnership agreement an enviable venture to the benefit of the State, she disclosed that the Group is going to sponsor about 50 students who are interested in engineering training for two years in one of the best vocational school in China.
“This is further to Mr Governor’s trip to China in November 2019 which was a fruitful official business trip where numerous big projects and partnership cooperations were further strengthened and forged.
“Proudly, I can say that today’s ceremony on GAC Motors assembly plant and Lagos Taxi Scheme are amongst Mr Governor’s China Trip output and delivery.
“It is important, to show the commitment towards the creation of the Sister State relationship between Lagos State and Guangdong Province.
“We, the Choice International Group (CIG), as the facilitator, will repay you back with our full commitment and delivery on what we signed today. My teams are ready to work with 100% per cent effort to build GAC Motors in Nigeria at the highest level of a brand.
“This international JV project, I believe will also soon bloom up in the Chinese business communities both in Nigeria and China. I can assure you, we will use it as the best example case to introduce and promote a “Greater Lagos and Greater Opportunities.
“Your excellency, your wise decision to partner with us to set up a world-class Assembly plant, definitely is the right decision and a good investment, for both the government and the consumers in Nigeria. Because our mission is the same: let more Nigerians afford a brand new car with trusted quality and enjoyment of driving,” Mrs Chen said.
Easter: FRSC Cautions Motorists Against Reckless Driving
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Idiroko Unit Command of Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in Ogun has cautioned motorists against drunk driving and reckless driving to avert mishaps during Easter celebration.
The warning came from Mr Akinwunmi Olaluwoye, the Idiroko Unit Commander of FRSC on Tuesday in Ota, Ogun.
The Christian Easter holidays will cover Good Friday from April 2 through Easter Monday on April 5, 2021.
Mr Olaluwoye said the warning had become necessary as drunk and reckless driving had contributed to some of the road crashes that have claimed many lives in the state.
The unit Commander admonished motorists against drunk driving during Easter celebration as breathalyzer had been provided for the personnel of corps who would be on the highways to test drivers.
“The FRSC would like to sound a note of warning to drivers who are fond of taken alcohol while driving because anyone caught will face the wrath of the law.
“We are not going to fold our hands and allow motorists to embark on a nefarious act that could endanger other road users or lead to unnecessary loss of lives.
“The FRSC will do everything possible within its powers during the Easter to ensure that people get to their various destinations safely,” he said.
Mr Olaluwoye said the personnel would be on the highways to monitor and control traffic to ensure sanity as well as check the excesses of motorists.
The unit commander, however, cautioned against wrongful overtaking and to refrain from flouting traffic rules and regulations in order to stem crashes during the Easter celebration.
Lagos Restricts Vehicular Movement in Surulere Ahead of Super Eagles Match
By Adedapo Adesanya
The Lagos State Government will today restrict vehicular movement for the live football match between the Super Eagles and Lesotho.
This was announced on Monday via a statement by the Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Frederic Oladeinde, adding that the closure was necessary to effectively manage traffic better and tighten security at the stadium.
He assured that provisions have been made to manage traffic along the axis for the 12-hour period.
“In line with this development, motorists are advised to avoid moving around the stadium from 10.00 am. Traffic approaching Teslim Balogun from Ojuelegba and Alaka/Eric Moore can only pass through the flyover,” the statement partly read.
According to the Commissioner, only vehicles with VVIP stickers or tickets would be allowed to approach the stadium and park with vehicles conveying persons with VVIP tickets permitted to drive into the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
Mr Oladeinde appealed to motorists that use the corridor frequently to cooperate with the Lagos Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) officials that will be deployed to manage the traffic flow as it will ease movement and minimize expected inconveniences.
Road to AFCON Cameroon 2022
The Super Eagles had qualified for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday after Lesotho and Sierra Leone drew 0-0 in Group L.
The team had earlier defeated the Squirrels of Benin Republic 1-0 that same day. Nigeria had to wait until the 93rd minute to score on Saturday after Paul Onauchu came off the bench to nod in the match-winning goal in Porto-Novo.
The standing has Nigeria on top with 11 points, Benin with seven, Sierra Leone with four and Lesotho with three. The countries finishing first and second qualify for the 24-team tournament in Cameroon next January.
Benin needed just one point from the match against Nigeria to also secure a place at the finals of the premier African national team competition but will have to wait for their game against Sierra Leone to confirm this.
Nigeria travelled by sea to its West African neighbours on Friday after players raised concerns about the poor road network linking the countries.
Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Comoros, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Zimbabwe have qualified, leaving seven places to be filled.
Nigeria will be playing in Lagos today just to fulfil all righteousness.
Hyundai to Suspend Production in South Korea
By Ahmed Rahma
A South Korean multinational automotive manufacturer, Hyundai Motor Company, said it plans to temporarily suspend production at its Ulsan number one plant in South Korea.
As reported on Monday by Korea Economic Daily, the suspension, which is starting from April 5 to April 13, is due to a shortage of chip.
The affected Ulsan factory, according to the report, produces 311,000 vehicles annually, including the Kona Electric and Ioniq 5.
“No decision has been made on the reported temporary suspension of the facility,” Hyundai headquartered in Seoul said in a statement to Reuters.
The Korea Economic Daily said the production at Hyundai’s Ulsan number one plant is being suspended due to supply issues regarding chips and power electric modules.
Underscoring the severity of the chip shortage crisis, Hyundai, until recently one of the automakers least affected due to prudent stockpiling, has become the latest automaker to halt manufacturing due to the chip shortage.
It was reported last month that Hyundai had been able to avoid a hit from the shortage so far largely because it maintained a stockpile of chips, unlike its global peers.
Last week, Honda Motor and General Motors both announced that they would continue production suspension at plants in North America for the coming weeks, citing the chip shortage as one of several reasons.
A confluence of factors including factory shutdowns, booming demand for laptops and tablets, and sanctions against Chinese tech companies caused a global shortage of chips to rattle the electronics sector in December.
Originally concentrated in the auto industry, the shortage has widened to affect a range of consumer electronics, including smartphones.
FG Begins Bidding Process to Concession 12 Highways
By Adedapo Adesanya
The commencement of the concessionaire of 12 federal roads under the federal government’s Highway Management Development Initiative (HMDI) will commence on Monday, March 29.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Works and Housing has launched an e-portal commencing the bidding process for the 12 highways slated for concession.
The affected roads the Kano-Shuari, Potiskum-Damaturu, Lokoja-Benin, Enugu-Port Harcourt, Ilorin-Jebba, Lagos-Ota-Abeokuta, Lagos-Badagry-Seme Border, Benin-Asaba, Abuja-Lokoja, Kano-Katsina, Onitsha-Owerri, Shagamu-Benin and Abuja-Keffi-Akwanga.
The Minister of Works and Housing Minister, Mr Babatunde Fashola, stated that the e-portal was launched in order to ensure competitiveness and guarantee transparency and would serve as the interface with the public in the management of the HDMI from procurement to implementation.
He said: “Let me repeat that all our transactions will be done through this portal and we will not entertain any personal inquiries to me or to any of our staff who have correspondingly been mandated not to entertain such requests.”
He said that the portal: https://hdmi.worksandhousing.gov.ng/) would be opened for operation from Monday and called on those who have written for enquires to make use of it.
“The day is now upon us, the venue is fixed and I have the pleasure to announce that the HDMI portal will open on Monday, March 29, 2021,” he said.
Continuing, he explained that the portal would be open for all HDMI related functions and most importantly, the Request for Qualification (RFQ) application for the Value Added Concession (VAC) which would be officially advertised on the same day.
He said the process was expected to be a vibrant process and successful that would unleash the commercial opportunities on Nigerian highways from paved roads, to clean and well-maintained highways, proper signage and route assurance signs, rest houses and commuter support for emergencies like vehicle towing and repairs.
“Please visit the portal and I wish you all a very interactive and rewarding experience,” he said.
On infrastructure development of the nation, Mr Fashola said one of the early initiatives of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration was to improve the ease of doing business and it is no secret that infrastructure was going to be an important driver of this initiative.
At present, the government is executing over 700 different contracts which aggregate to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of over 13,000 km of roads and bridges across all the 36 states including the Federal Capital Territory.
He said: “As a result of the size of the undertaking, there is an increasing and unsatisfied demand for funding to finance these projects to completion and to maintain them.”
On his part, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr Babangida Hussaini stated that the Ministerial notice on the commencement of the HDMI signalled the commencement of the procurement process for the concession of the twelve pilot broad corridors under the scheme.
Explaining the objectives, the Permanent Secretary stated that the initiative would leverage private sector investment to improve facilities and operations on the selected routes, maximize the revenue-generating potential of the routes and ensure international best practices in the development and management of the nation’s highways.
He said: “This pilot project is expected to attract a lot of investment to the country, create jobs for our teeming youths and make travelling on our highways more desirable.”
In his opening statement, the acting Director-General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Mr Micheal Ohiani said that ICRC as a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) regulatory commission would ensure a level playing ground for all interested players.
He, therefore, called on all interested investor both local and foreign to participate in the bidding processes as it would be fair to all bidders.
Tesla Adopts Bitcoin as Payment Method for Cars
By Ahmed Rahma
After purchasing $1.2 billion worth of the world’s largest electronic currency, Bitcoin, Tesla has said it will start accepting the cryptocurrency as means of payment for its electric cars.
The Chief Executive Officer of the company, Mr Elon Musk, made this disclosure via a Twitter post on Wednesday.
“You can now buy a Tesla with Bitcoin” he tweeted, noting that this payment option is only available to customers in the United States for now, with plans to include others later.
He added that Tesla will only use internal and open-source software and that any Bitcoin paid to the company will be retained as Bitcoin and not converted to a fiat currency.
Recall that the California-based Tesla disclosed its $1.5 billion investment in Bitcoin in February, signalling its intent to begin accepting the cryptocurrency as a form of payment at the time, sending prices to a record high.
The world’s leading EV maker made the Bitcoin bet after updating its investment policy in January to allow it to buy digital assets.
Bitcoin rose 3 per cent to $56,108 as of 8:33am in London.
In addition to lending increased legitimacy to electronic currencies, Mr Musk’s embrace of Bitcoin fits his maverick image.
The billionaire has often tweeted about cryptocurrency-related topics and recently called Bitcoin “a good thing” in an interview.
Dogecoin, the once tongue-in-cheek digital currency, also soared to records in February after Musk, rapper Snoop Dogg and Kiss bassist Gene Simmons tweeted about it.
Apapa Gridlock: NPA Suspends Export Receipts at Lagos Ports
By Ahmed Rahma
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has suspended export receipts at the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Port in order to improve access into the ports and enhance service delivery.
In a statement issued by the authority on Monday, it was stated that the suspension became effective from today and will last for 14 days.
“As part of efforts to improve access into, and service delivery at the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Port, the authority hereby announces a 14-day (two weeks) suspension of export receipts at both ports and all satellite truck parks, with effect from Monday, 22/03/21,” a part of the statement read.
“This development is necessitated by the need for consultations with export cargo stakeholders and the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC) on the harmonisation of procedures required of owners of this category of cargo,” it explained.
“Stakeholders should please note that this suspension does not affect export refrigerated cargo and trucks whose operators have secured call up tickets as of Friday, March 19, 2021,” the agency stressed.
“All other segments of port users are enjoined to continue carrying on their businesses by using the designated truck parks and booking for access into the ports on the Eto platform,” it advised.
“The authority thanks all stakeholders for their support towards the success of Eto since its introduction three weeks ago and seeks continued support in the determination to end truck congestion on access roads into the ports and improve service delivery,” the statement further said.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman, who spoke on 95.3 FM on Monday, also gave reasons for the decision.
She said, “We have a backlog of over 600 trucks that have approached the port coming out of their truck parks and are currently in that location within the port corridors, within the Lilypond. So, we are suspending all export cargoes.”
Ms Usman explained that many exporters who approach the ports without proper documentation contribute to the gridlock witnessed.
“This has been a challenge for us, the documentation, in terms of readiness of the terminal operators to receive them, some of the certifications they require from supervisory agencies based on the type of exports that they carry,” she said.
“They also have several custom certifications and CBN documents that they need to complete.
“Recognising that as a problem, we have invited the export promotion council to join us this week to meet with the large exporters to make them understand the procedures as it relates to documentation.
“If any of your documents are not ready, you must remain within your location. Actually, you shouldn’t even start your journey to the ports,” the Kaduna-born politician noted.
The blockchain brings new financing options to the business market. For example, Bitcoin Cash casino has adapted to only using cryptocurrency. This way, it makes it easier for their customers to deposit and withdraw in a BCH casino. Entrepreneurs have taken note of this and are looking to invest more in crypto than in fiat markets.
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