By Timi Olubiyi, PhD
Where problems exist and persist, there are usually opportunities, such is the case of the perennial issues with the Lagos ports where the vessels, trucks, and cargo congestions persist, business opportunities abound.
The Lagos ports; the Apapa and Tin-Can ports, are the busiest in Nigeria and for this reason, congestions exist and cargo remained trapped inside the ports. This situation makes cargo evacuation difficult and this ultimately affects the ease of doing business in the ports and indeed around the ports environment.
These situations continue to hinder trade facilitation, free flow of traffic, and ease of doing business in and around the Apapa area of Lagos State. On the part of vessels calling at Lagos ports, extraordinary delays are suffered due to this congestion and the waiting periods at Terminals continue to exceed 20 days according to findings, which is bad for all known economic reasons.
Findings further indicate that the congestion at the ports is largely due to inadequate and ageing infrastructure, lack of automation, bad roads some of which are currently undergoing repairs, which make trucks remain stuck on roads for long hours and days.
Another significant reason is the state of the rail transport which has forced 90 per cent of cargo to go by road. These challenges are prevalent and from information gathered, some shipping lines sometimes divert Nigeria-bound cargoes to neighbouring ports.
So, with the perennial congestion and with terminal operators running very low on yard space, there is a need for a short to medium-term solution before the government comes up with a lasting resolution to resolve the challenges and ensure free movement of cargoes in and out of the port.
Therefore, opportunities exist in barge operations in the meantime to ease cargo evacuation processes at the Lagos ports. From indications, barge operations have been initiated by maritime regulators to reduce this congestion at the ports but it is high time more attention is paid to it and the benefits thereof.
For readers who are unaware of what a barge is, it is a wide and flat-shaped boat just like a raft built mainly for river and canal transport of bulk goods. The main reason for this particular shape is to ensure that the cargo-carrying capacity is enhanced and more bulk can be hauled and transferred on it.
So, because of its design and usefulness, the usage of barges can convey containers in and out of the ports conveniently.
Therefore, efficient and regulated barge operations can be an effective strategy to resolve the key challenge of congestions at the port and it may drastically reduce the pressure on the roads if adequately regulated and put to use.
In my view, barge operation if harnessed with adequate technology can improve the current situation at the ports particularly with the traffic gridlock in and around Apapa Lagos State.
Without doubts, the use of barge operation can reduce the dwelling time of cargo and turnaround time on vessels calling at the Lagos ports.
Further to this, using barges to evacuate cargo from the ports can become one of the sustainable ways of reducing the burden on Nigerian roads, in the meantime. Without further doubt, if the operation and set-up are done effectively, it can help reduce the overall cargo clearing cost.
In fact, if the services of barge operations are encouraged on our waterways into the hinterland the human and trailer traffic going into the ports will be reduced significantly.
In addition, if barge operation is effectively adopted the capacity of the port to receive more imports would be enhanced and more shipping lines will be encouraged to call at the Lagos ports.
Recall, Nigeria has the population, the market, the businesses and largely because of the import-dependent nature of the economy. Therefore, barge operation can become an important part of intermodal transportation in the country, which is a quick way to ensure seamless cargo evacuation from the ports
Currently, cargo from the ports is moved or evacuated mainly by trucking and a very low and insignificant size is moved by rail, so in the meantime, barge operations can help improve the evacuation technique at the ports.
Even from context observation, a large number of the traffic entering the ports is to deliver empty containers, an alternative to these drop-offs of empty containers can be through barges to the ports without the pressure on the roads and the long queues of articulated trucks at the port entries.
Recall, a truck most time can only transport a single container irrespective of the size of the container, however, a barge can take at least twelve (12) 40-foot containers at once.
Therefore, container barging can form key succour to the current congestion at the ports and promote ease of moving cargoes out of the ports.
A good illustration of how barge operation can be effective can be seen in the arrangement of moving 500 containers out of the Lagos ports in a day. The current situation will require 500 articulated trucks, however, only 42 flat container barges will be required to move the 500 containers to the hinterland, by this technique 500 trucks will be out of the road for that single day barge is considered. This will adequately decongest the port and the roads if the barge service impact is viewed over a week or a year.
In my opinion, the barge operations can easily compliment the already established architecture at the ports and ease the high volume of traffic in and out of the ports.
So, it is safe to say barge operations ought to be part of the architecture of the ports and consideration should be given to improve intermodal transportation around the country.
Considerably, for ease of cargo movement and to further promote ease of doing business at the ports, barge operations will not only assist, it will create jobs and also help to activate more new businesses in that ecosystem.
Port terminal operators (companies that operate terminals) may need to align their operations with that of barge operations and ensure that loading points for barges are created at their various terminals to grow and support this line of business. When a more enabling environment exists, it expands opportunities and such can be achieved at ports with barge operation.
In fact, it will drive job creation, promote more business creation and value-added services within the maritime sector. In reality, it will improve service delivery and the business competitiveness at the ports, truckers and haulage companies will eventually be challenged to innovate, reduce charges and improve on service delivery time.
In conclusion, there is a need to reduce the dwell time of cargo at the ports from twenty-one 21 days to the regional average of seven (7) days and also achieve efficient trade facilitation and ease of doing business at the ports, one of the ways to achieve this in the meantime will be through the use of barge services, in my view.
Therefore, to support this cause, key stakeholders in the maritime sector, regulators, government agencies: National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA; Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC; Nigeria Port Authority, NPA; Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA; Nigerian Navy, Nigeria Police, and Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA need to work on the barge operation regulations, licensing and registration, market entry and exit modalities, setting service minimum standards and standardization, security, safety, insurance, tariffs, pricing, and others to ensure stable operations of barges in the country. Good luck and God bless Nigeria!
How may you obtain advice or further information on the article?
Dr Timi Olubiyi is an Entrepreneurship & Business Management expert with a PhD in Business Administration from Babcock University Nigeria. He is a prolific investment coach, seasoned scholar, Chartered Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI), and Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) registered capital market operator. He can be reached on the Twitter handle @drtimiolubiyi and via email: email@example.com, for any questions, reactions, and comments.
Teeth Cleaning for Children and its Significance
Teeth cleaning is really substantial, so for children as for adults. Tooth plaque and bacteria can be removed by brushing teeth and avoiding the illnesses of gums and decay of teeth. People should brush their teeth in the morning and in the evening just before falling asleep, that is twice a day.
Parents should teach their children to clean their teeth early in the morning and make teeth cleaning an indispensable part of the list of their daily must-do activities so that this habit will stay with them when they become adults.
From what age, children should start off brushing their teeth?
Commence teeth brushing once the first tooth appears, in general beyond seven months of age. First and foremost, start to apply a mild wet cloth, as well as parents, can try cleaning the teeth using water and a mild toothbrush. Teeth are extremely significant for adults and, notably, for children. Teeth aid babies in speaking and eating, so it is significant to take care of them properly from the first months of life onward. Many children do not allow cleaning their teeth as it is an unpleasant activity for them. In this case, parents are advised to try to entertain the kid with the games on smartphones, for this a vivid instance can be the casino gaming like 22Bet Nigeria. So, as the parents adore much to play, they are able to grab the attention of children by these games and clean their teeth in the meanwhile.
The pickup of the right brush and toothpaste for kids
Children under 18 months only make use of only water during tooth brushing.
From 18 months to 6 years old, apply a toothbrush with a tiny head and mild stubble. Check out the fluoride quantity on the pack of toothpaste, it should be with a low.
Teach your kid the right brushing of teeth
Cheer your children up to be engaged in the process of tooth brushing with pleasure. Support them to adopt this skill and entitle them to brush their teeth on their own. After the age of 8, kids develop the perfect motor ability required for cleaning the tooth. Nevertheless, control over the children is mandatory until parents are assured that the kids are able to succeed in this activity and many others by themselves.
After cleaning, cheer your child up to spit out the toothpaste, rather than to swallow it with water.
Making 2023 General Elections a Rewarding One
By Jerome-Mario Utomi
The central interest of this piece is not to spot leadership faults in Nigeria or proffer solutions to what the present administration is not doing well to salvage the socio-economic well-being of the poor masses. Rather, the present piece is out to perform two separate but related functions.
First, as the nation races towards 2023 general elections, the piece x-rays the volume/strength with which foreign observers have in the past two decades raised strong voices against uncivil antics particularly the thorny transparency challenge that characterized concluded elections in Nigeria and the organized resentment it brought to the nation at the global stage/ exposed the nation to the pangs of sociopolitical challenges that prevent her from enthroning true democracy that ensures a corruption-free society.
Secondly, it is primed and positioned to find both practical and pragmatic ways Nigerians and particularly the present administration can use the forthcoming 2023 general election to correct the nation’s leadership challenge which is gravitating towards becoming a culture.
Aside from the fact that we cannot solve our socio-political challenges with the same thinking we used when we created it, the 2023 electoral project will among other things demand finding nations that have met the electoral challenges that we currently face, how they had tackled it and how successful they had become. We must admit and adopt both structural and mental changes, approaches that impose more discipline than is conventional.
Indeed, we are challenged to develop the world perspective in performing the traditional but universal responsibility which the instrumentality of participatory democracy and election of leaders confers on us, as no individual or nation can live alone and our geographical oneness has to a large extent come into being through modern man scientific ingenuity.
Again, with the amendment of the electoral Act that presently accommodates the electronic transmission of results, one can say that as a nation, we have made some political/electoral gains.
However, to help achieve electoral perfection in the country, there exists also, a study report which provides a link between the factors that impede credible election in Nigeria as well as made far-reaching measures that could pave way for development and orderliness in the nation’s political sphere.
The report was put together by the Centre for Value in Leadership (CVL), Lagos in partnership with the Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), and supported by MacArthur Foundation. It has as title; Ethics and Standards in Electoral Process in Nigeria (guiding tools/principles).
Going by the content of the report, an election is said to be credible when it is organized in an atmosphere of peace, devoid of rancour and acrimony. The outcome of such an election must be acceptable to a majority of the electorate and it must be acceptable within the international community.
If elections are to be free and fair, laws designed in that regard must not just exist; they must be operational and be enforced. And the power of freedom of choice conferred on the electorates must be absolute and not questionable.
But contrary to these provisions, since the re-emergence of democracy in Nigeria in 1999, our country has conducted different elections. These elections have many common features and few things differentiate them.
For instance, the elections were all conducted periodically as expected. They were closely monitored by domestic and international observers, and they aroused varied contestations from Nigerian politicians and voters and they were marred by varying degrees of malpractice.
The implication of this finding is that the electoral process in Nigeria is rendered vulnerable to abuse, through massive rigging and other forms of electoral malpractices by political parties- especially by those in power as they seek to manipulate the system to serve their partisan interest.
Elections, which are a critical part of the democratic process, therefore, lose their intrinsic value and become mere means of manipulation to get to power.
This, the study noted, derogates the sanctity of elections as an institutional mechanism for conferring political power on citizens in a democratic dispensation.
As a way forward, it underlined four basic conditions necessary to create an enabling environment for holding free and fair elections. These include; an honest, competent and non-partisan body to administer the election, the knowledge and willingness of the political community to accept basic rules and regulations governing the contest for power, a developed system of political parties and teams of candidates presented to the electorates as alternative choices. And an independent judiciary to interpret electoral laws and settle election disputes.
For transparency and accountability during and after the election, INEC should; be free from any form of financial encumbrance, funding of INEC should henceforth come from the first-line charge. The commission should also be removed from the list of Federal bodies. And, the procedure for the appointment and removal of the INEC chairman and members of the board should be reviewed.
To perform its role effectively as the final arbiter of electoral dispute, and curb the excesses of the politicians, the court must possess both juridical expertise as well as political independence. There should be adequate time between resolution of conflicts and swearing-in of elected officials; section 134 (2) and (3) of the Electoral Act 2010 should be reviewed such that election tribunal cases are expedited. And finally, the court must resist the political or financial pressure and adhere strictly to the underlying legal grounds in their consideration of injunctions.
Aside from adopting or enforcing provisions requiring aspiring candidates to have been a member of a political party to address a high prevalence of defections before elections which dilutes political party growth and development, political parties should act as a bridge between people and the government and help integrate citizens into the political system. Also, they should inform citizens about politics through socialization and mobilization of voters to ensure that the decisions are made by the people.
While the report stressed that any discussion on democracy without the right to receive and impart information is empty. It, however, regretted that journalism in Nigeria with regard to its constitutional roles is not scientific; adding that Nigerian politicians have always used the media in an unwholesome manner.
To exit this state of affairs, the report urged practitioners to help build enlightened electorates as public enlightenment is a prerequisite for free and fair elections.
The Nigerian Broadcasting Commission, private and state-owned media outlets should strictly enforce, and adhere to regulations on media neutrality and take steps against hate messaging and misinformation in the media. The media should uphold the ethos of providing accurate and factual information to the citizens at all times.
While this is ongoing, the Nigerian Police Force should be guided by, and conform to the appropriate principles, rules, codes of ethics, and laws governing police duties especially in relation to crowd control and use of firearms. They should maintain impartiality and eschew partisanship or discrimination between the ruling and non-ruling, big or small.
Jerome-Mario Utomi is the Programme Coordinator (Media and Public Policy), Social and Economic Justice Advocacy (SEJA), Lagos. He could be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org/08032725374.
Money, Society, Development and Economics
By Nneka Okumazie
For some people, all they will ever become is what money can make them.
For them, the power of everything money can do makes everything about money.
They often measure to money and measure for money. They talk for it and ensure it is what is seen about them.
Many of these people have money above all culture in some of the countries the people there have described as unbearable.
In most of these countries, the same reason government does not work is the same thing outsiders are about, bringing the country to a contiguous halt.
Government is all about who can grab for self and interests, around power, resources and money.
This same reason is why many organized crimes exist and several kinds of harmful practices across the private sector.
Money will never develop any country. Though some continue to say money is what is lacking.
Money will never change anything about anyone because if there are real changes at any point, money may have enhanced it but was never cause.
Things that look like changes that money made does not change; they are just more of how money keeps itself important.
For many things done because there was money to do it, they are many times purposeless. There are also others that should be been important, but because money was more important in that project, it also became purposeless.
If in some developing country, someone lives in a nice apartment or drives a cool vehicle, making that individual seem important, the importance of the individual is to whom, and what purpose does it serve, and for what it serves, what does it change, affect or improve?
The comfort that is lived in many of these places is a false peak.
It keeps them there and there is rarely much else to find meaning for.
Money continues to dictate how to be seen to have it, going around in circles, absent of progress, but ensuring participants are unaware.
Money, for what it can, makes people become a sunset. Money stays important using people as tools to itself.
[Ecclesiastes 6:7, All the labour of man is for his mouth, and yet the appetite is not filled.]
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