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Apapa Gridlock: Ambode Bars Trucks From Entering Lagos

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**Orders RRS, LASTMA, LASEMA to enforce directive at state borders

By Dipo Olowookere

Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has approved the restriction of trucks entering the metropolis as a way of dealing with the incessant traffic logjams experienced at the Apapa axis of the state.

At a press conference jointly addressed on Friday by officials of the state as well as members of the Association of Maritime Truck Owners (AMATO) at the Bagauda Kaltho Press Centre in Alausa, the state government specifically said owners and operators of articulated vehicles/trailers and petroleum tankers should stay away from Lagos for now.

It regretted that the incessant traffic bottleneck had impacted negatively on the commercial activities of the citizenry, adding that the directive would be enforced to eliminate the current hardship being faced by motorists.

Addressing the briefing, Acting Commissioner for Transportation, Mr Olanrewaju Elegushi, said investigations revealed that the traffic lockdown was a direct result of the challenges being faced by operators of the ports’ which had made it impossible for them to load the articulated vehicles/trailers that has come from the hinterland to evacuate imported items from the ports.

He said the gridlock was worsened by the current rehabilitation of some major roads and other minor roads which necessitated the closure of some roads in Apapa, noting that the situation had led to the traffic bottleneck and backflow of the articulated vehicles to as far as Ojuelegba on the Funsho Williams Avenue, Surulere.

Explaining the reason for the directive, Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Steve Ayorinde, said the Apapa gridlock had also become a reoccurring problem due to constant breakdown of operations at the Ports.

“Clearly, it is the breakdown of operations at the Port that is the monster causing this reoccurring issue. We keep having this issue of gridlock in Apapa because issues that the Ports Authorities and the concessionaires are dealing with are recurrent and the spill over effect of those issues are causing all these.

“If the Ports can’t determine how many trucks they are able to deal with on a daily basis; how they are informed about coming in and going out, then it will be a problem to deal with.

“What we need to do is to keep on engaging with them, we keep on engaging with other states and so on. I mean people who have trucks in other states and already know that there is a logjam in Lagos, why send other trucks to Lagos? While clearing the mess that the Lagos State Government did not cause, can people not consider it logical to wait for few days for us to clear this and this is the reason why we are saying that trucks should stay away from Lagos in the interim.

“The idea is not to say don’t come into Lagos. It is part of what makes the economy of Lagos what it is but we are saying let us deal with the logjam that we have presently and there is no way we can deal with it, we can only deal with the effect because the causes essentially have to do with the operations at the Ports and that is why we are appealing to them,” Mr Ayorinde explained.

He also said that the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) had been unable to load product from its Mosimi Depot in Ogun State due to vandalisation, noting that tankers hoping to get fuel across to the South West States are stranded in Lagos.

In the interim, the government, however, urged the operators to utilise the Ogere Trailer Park and other parks outside the state to avoid further hardship for motorists on the road, assuring that all measures would be deployed to ensure quick resolution of the situation.

On his part, General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA0, Mr Adesina Tiamiyu, said the state government has already instructed the agency alongside Rapid Response Squad (RRS) of the Nigeria Police and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) to enforce the order restricting trucks from entering Lagos for now, noting that the enforcement will subsist pending when the spill over of traffic is cleared.

He urged residents not to hesitate to immediately alert State authorities through the 112 and 767 toll free lines in the eventuality of any danger lurking.

Also speaking, President of AMATO, Mr Remi Ogungbemi said the present situation was worrisome as it is a time bomb waiting to explode if unchecked.

He urged the Federal Government to take a cue from the Lagos State government and collaborate to resolve the crisis as soon as possible.

While pledging the readiness of members of his association to support efforts geared to restore sanity, Mr Ogungbemi also called for a regulatory system in place to manage call-up of trucks through technology.

Recall that this week, the Lagos State House of Assembly appealed to the NNPC to relocate tank farms in Apapa to other less populated areas so as to ease hectic traffic situation in the area.

Dipo Olowookere is a journalist based in Nigeria that has passion for reporting business news stories. At his leisure time, he watches football and supports 3SC of Ibadan. Mr Olowookere can be reached via dipo.olowookere@businesspost.ng

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SERAP Drags FG to Court over $23m Abacha Loot

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By Adedapo Adesanya

A suit has been filed against the federal government by the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) over the recently recovered $23 million looted by ex-Head of State, General Sani Abacha.

In a suit number FHC/ABJ/CS/1700/2022 filed last Friday at the Federal High Court in Abuja, the group is asking the court to “direct and compel President Buhari and Mr Abubakar Malami to release and widely publish a copy of the agreement on the Abacha loot with the US.”

In a statement on Sunday by SERAP Deputy Director, Mr Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) is joined in the suit as respondent.

The United States government had in August signed an agreement with the federal government to repatriate the $23 million Abacha loot to Nigeria. It was in addition to the $311.7 million Abacha loot repatriated from the US to Nigeria in 2020.

“The Nigerian Constitution 1999 [as amended], the Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations impose transparency obligations on the Federal Government to widely publish the agreement on the $23 million Abacha loot,” SERAP argued in the suit.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement with the U.S. would allow Nigerians to scrutinise it, and to monitor the spending of the repatriated loot to ensure that the money is not mismanaged, diverted or re-stolen.

“The repatriated $23 million Abacha loot is vulnerable to corruption and mismanagement. A substantial part of the estimated $5 billion returned Abacha loot since 1999 may have been mismanaged, diverted, or re-stolen, and in any case remain unaccounted for.

“Publishing a copy of the agreement would ensure that persons with public responsibilities are answerable to the people for the performance of their duties, including the management of repatriated loot,” SERAP said.

The suit filed on behalf of SERAP by its lawyers Kolawole Oluwadare and Ms Atinuke Adejuyigbe, said the Nigerian Constitution, Freedom of Information Act, and the country’s international obligations rest on the principle that citizens should have access to information regarding their government’s activities.

No date has been fixed for the hearing of the suit.

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Lagos to Severely Punish Those Behind Mushin Collapsed Building

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By Modupe Gbadeyanka

The owner of the building that collapsed in the Mushin area of Lagos State and others would be “severely punished,” the state government has promised.

On Friday, it was reported that a 3-storey building on 2/4 Oye Sonuga Street, Palm Avenue, Mushin, Lagos collapsed, killing four people and injuring others.

In a statement issued yesterday, the new Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Omotayo Bamgbose-Martins, said the state government would go after whoever is indicted in the incident, hinting that an investigation has commenced to unravel what happened.

During a visit to the scene of the unfortunate incident, the Commissioner directed that the adjoining building be pulled down for safety reasons, adding that efforts are on to rescue those who might have been trapped in the rubble.

He disclosed that the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) and the Lagos State Materials Testing Laboratory have been directed to unravel the cause of the collapse.

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NNPC Opens Talk with Financers on Gas Projects

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The Nigerian National Petroleum Company (NNPC) Limited has established talks with the United States Finance Corporation and the African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank) to seek financing for its multi-billion-dollar gas projects.

The Group Chief Executive Officer of NNPC, Mr Mele Kyari, disclosed this at the Nigerian International Economic Partnership held in New York as part of the ongoing United Nations General Assembly (UNGA).

Mr Kyari said: “Inclusion (in energy transition) means we need to be supported. We are already talking to the US DFC, and the EXIM so that they can give us financing and funding for our gas projects, and this is very critical so that we can have that flexibility to move forward and at the back of this.

“I’m sure some of you may be aware that today, we are getting a grant to build baseline carbon emission studies in our country by the United States Government. This is very helpful in the sense that President Muhammadu Buhari, has also asked that we need to be supported. Currently, the major source of financing we are having is from the African Exim.”

Nigeria’s transition to net zero by 2060 requires enormous investments in gas projects which have been positioned as the country’s major transition fuel.

Mr Kyari said Nigeria is looking for opportunities to leverage the gas resources in the country to provide the possibility required for the energy transition.

It will cost $410 billion to transit, according to the federal government, and huge gas projects like the recently signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the NNPC, ECOWAS Commission, and Morocco to deliver pipelines along the African corridor will gulp billions of dollars.

“We are embarking on massive infrastructure and to see how we can deliver the Morocco gas pipeline which will pass through some countries to provide a number of securities including bringing people out of poverty and increasing gas supply in the domestic market,” Mr Kyari said.

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