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Abuja Airport Closure: Fashola Calls for Careful Driving to Avoid Accidents

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By Dipo Olowookere

Ahead of the planned reconstruction and repair of the Abuja Airport runway, which would lead to a diversion of air traffic and passengers from Abuja to Kaduna, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola at the weekend, inspected progress of work on the Abuja-Kaduna Highway.

The Minister, who stopped at several points on the road to ascertain the quality of work being done in company with the Minister of State, Mr Mustapha Baba Shehuri, and other senior officials of the Ministry, said the Federal Government through the Ministry was effecting the emergency repair work to ensure that the road was safe and motorable even as he called for careful driving to avoid accidents during the period of closure and on the nation’s roads generally.

In an interactive session with newsmen after the inspection, Mr Fashola said although government has embarked on the emergency repair of the road to make it safe by removing the potholes , a lot depended on the users of the road to ensure that they remain safe and avoid accidents while the closure lasted.

The Minister, who said he would wish a day when no accidents would be reported on the nation’s roads, expressed regrets that such a wish remained farfetched adding that apart from the condition of the roads, human error constituted, from available reports, a very significant factor in road accidents.

Recalling an accident that occurred on the same day on the road involving a heavy truck, the Minister said the accident most likely happened in the night advising that those who drive heavy trucks in the night must try and get as much as sleep as they could during the day.

Also advocating training and retraining for drivers, Mr Fashola declared, “I think that it is fair to say that not many people who manage vehicles on our roads are actually trained to manage vehicles on the roads; many people are auxiliary drivers for want of something better to do”.

“There are rules in the operation and utilization of automobiles”, he said adding that the FRSC has continued to address the problem in terms of education, enlightenment and the introduction of a speed limiting device while his Ministry was also looking at how to assist them in the short to medium terms by introducing some speed cameras to deter people and support the efforts of the Corps.

Pointing out that the wish to stay alive rested ultimately it in the hands of drivers themselves, Mr Fashola said such a wish must be matched with abstention from substance abuse that some vehicle operators subject their bodies to adding that such abuses make their bodies vulnerable.

He, however, said the effort to prevent or limit accidents on the nation’s roads was an obligation on the government which, according to him, must not be given up adding that there was need to also go back to the primary schools and begin to teach road traffic behaviour from the foundation while also enlightening the older generation “that they must begin to prepare the younger generation to make sure they become better road users in future”.

On the purpose of the inspection, the Minister, who clarified that the work being carried out on the road was an emergency repair, and not the real reconstruction of the road, essentially to remove the potholes and reduce the risk of accidents, added that the purpose was to see the progress made on the repairs as the date for the closure of the airport was drawing near.

He told newsmen that, “The work that is being done here, you must understand this is a road of more than 160 kilometres. We are at kilometre 130 from Abuja. So the work that is being done as I said is an emergency intervention essentially to remove the dangerous potholes and eliminate potential hazards that could cause accidents for motorists on this road”.

According to the Minister, there is a major contract provision that is going through Procurement for the essential reconstruction of the road, which he recalled, was constructed in the early 1990s when it was expanded from a single carriageway to a dual carriageway adding that no record indicated that there has been any major repairs ever since.

“So the road needs to be rebuilt because it has been subjected to a lot of axle load. But what we are doing right now is emergency repairs to remove the potholes to make the road safe for commuters ahead of the planned reconstruction and repair of the Abuja Airport runway which will lead to a diversion of air traffic and passengers from Abuja to Kaduna which will start on the 8th of March”, he said.

The Minister, who noted that the role of his Ministry was to make the road motorable and safe for commuters reiterated that he just came to inspect the place to see the progress of work first hand, promised that the Ministry would deliver the road and hoped that the Aviation counterpart would also deliver the runway in six weeks as scheduled by it.

He told the newsmen, “You can see that some sections have been resurfaced completely but that is not the main reconstruction of the road; let us be clear about what is happening here”.

“The whole purpose of this contract is to cover the potholes on the 160 kilometres road two lanes on one side and two lanes on the other side; so that is really to cover 620 kilometres of potholes; that is a contract for N1 billion,” Mr Fashola said, adding that the amount was not what would be needed to rebuild the road.

The Minister reiterated, “So let’s be clear about that. This is emergency short term. When the Bureau for Public Procurement (BPP) gives the no objection contract, we will start when the airport runway would have been completed”.

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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FAAN Temporarily Shuts Lagos Airport Runway

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Lagos Airport Runway

By Ahmed Rahma

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has announced the temporary closure of Runway 18R/36L at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

According to a statement on Tuesday, signed by the General Manager of Corporate Affairs, Mrs Henrietta Yakubu, the closure was due to a landing incident.

“The closure is due to a landing incident involving a Boeing 737 Azman Air aircraft with registration 5N SYS, and flight number ZQ2325. The aircraft had a tyre burst after landing on this runway,” FAAN said.

The agency added that all passengers and crew on board the aircraft were safely evacuated and officials of FAAN Air Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, are working to ensure the aircraft is towed out of the runway, so as to restore normalcy.

“The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria hereby announces a temporary closure of Runway 18R/36L at the Murtala Mohammed Airport, Lagos.

“All passengers and crew onboard the aircraft were safely evacuated at 1908 hours, and officials of FAAN Air Rescue and Fire Fighting Services, AIB, and NAHCO are already working to ensure the aircraft is towed out of the runway, so as to restore normalcy,” the statement read.

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United Nigeria Airlines Commences Operations Friday

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United Nigeria Airlines

By Dipo Olowookere

All is now set for the inaugural flight of United Nigeria Airlines as the management has confirmed that the company will begin operations on Friday, February 12, 2021.

According to the organisation’s Head of Corporate Communications, Mr Achilleus-Chud Uchegbu, the inaugural flight will be conducted with an EMB145 aircraft.

He further disclosed that the flight will depart Lagos through the domestic wing of the Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MM2), Ikeja and then land at the Akanu Ibiam International Airport Enugu.

Mr Uchegbu further said the aircraft will thereafter leave Enugu to the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja before making a return to Lagos.

He said adequate preparations have been made for a smooth journey through the different routes, noting that the company was ready to put a smile on the faces of passengers.

The image-maker of United Nigeria Airlines expressed confidence that the company will transform the way people fly, assuring that they will get value for their money and trust in the firm.

He said, for now, the airline will carry out regular daily flight operations to Lagos, Abuja, Asaba, Enugu, with Port Harcourt and Owerri to follow very soon.

United Nigeria Airlines, after fulfilling all mandatory regulatory requirements, was issued an Air Operators Certificate (AOC) by the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), enabling it to begin flight domestic operations.

Business Post gathered from reports that United Nigeria Airlines is owned by a billionaire businessman, Mr Obiorah Okonkwo. The airline is operated by Private Airlines Services Limited.

The company aims to become the most efficient airline operator in Nigeria and increase its assets and investments to support the development of its services for regional and international operations and then build good reputation in the aviation sector and become a strategic player in the industry, globally.

United Nigeria Airlines is coming on board at a time the aviation industry is struggling to get back on its feet as a result of the devastating blow it was dealt with by COVID-19, which forced governments across the globe to restrict the movement of people.

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NSE Lauds Transcorp Hotel’s Desire for Sustained Growth

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Transcorp Hotels

By Aduragbemi Omiyale

The board and management of Transcorp Hotel Plc have been commended for their “commitment towards the sustained growth of this reputable brand.”

This applause was given by the CEO of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE), Mr Oscar Onyema, last week at the listing of the company’s rights issue on the trading platform of the bourse.

Transcorp Hotels listed additional 2,642,124,511 ordinary shares valued at N10 billion on the NSE last Thursday, while the CEO of the firm, Mrs Dupe Olushola, was honoured with the closing gong ceremony.

At the event, Mr Onyema noted that the 99.3 per cent subscription level recorded by the exercise showed the confidence investors have in the organisation despite the prevailing macro-economic challenges.

“I congratulate the board and management of Transcorp Hotel’s plc for their laudable commitment towards the sustained growth of this reputable brand.

“Transcorp Hotels Plc’s successful capital raise with a rights issue of 2,642,124,511 additional ordinary shares which was 99.3 per cent subscribed despite the prevailing macro-economic challenges is highly commendable.

“At the exchange, we remain committed to providing issuers with a platform that allows them to meet their strategic business objectives and it is our delight to see listed companies take full advantage of the NSE’s products and services to support their growth trajectory,” Mr Onyema said.

In her remarks, the MD of Transcorp Hotels thanked the NSE, shareholders and others for the successful completion of the N10 billion rights issue.

“The past year has been a challenging one given the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the hospitality sector, and that Transcorp Hotels has not only survived but is firmly on the road to recovery is a testament of the efficacy of our initiatives and we thank you for your belief ins us,” she said.

Mrs Olushola noted that, “Moving forward, we are optimistic about 2021 and we have begun the year in a strong position. We will continue to deepen our share and expand our market leveraging best in class technology and providing the highest service standard across our locations.”

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7 Must-Visit Places in Nigeria

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Nigeria Must-Visit Places

Nigeria is a country with the largest population on the African continent. While this nation is crowded, it has limitless attractions to offer to tourists.

Tropical rainforests, exotic beaches, scenic waterfalls, natural springs, structures of historical significance, and national parks. Indeed, there are many untapped travel destinations that you can find in Nigeria.

So, for the avid traveller, you shouldn’t forget to visit Nigeria while you’re in Africa. Here are the best places that you can see and experience in the country.

Ikogosi Cold and Warm Spring

In Ikogosi, a town in the state of Ekiti, there’s a natural tourist attraction where you can find warm and cold springs. This place is one of the best spots for experiencing the beauty of Nature. To add to this natural wonder, the scenic topography and verdant trees around the area also satisfy your senses.

There’s a resort that has been built around the warm and cold springs that cater to tourists who want to relax, eat, and stay the night.

Tarkwa Bay Beach

Tarkwa Bay Beach is located near Lagos Harbor. The hospitable locals there warmly welcome tourists who want to enjoy various kinds of water sports and activities. Although it’s a public beach, the place has a relatively smaller number of crowds compared to other public beaches in Lagos.

You can take your friends, family, and lover to Tarkwa Beach. Visit it during weekdays so that you won’t encounter a huge crowd.

Osun Sacred Grove

A UNESCO World Heritage site, Osun Sacred Grove is a must-see tourist attraction in Nigeria. Locals and foreigners venerate this sacred forest due to its mysterious and wonderful atmosphere.

According to the Yoruba people, this sacred forest is where their goddess of fertility, Osun, is taking abode. While walking along the trails in Osun Sacred Grove, you will see statues and shrines built for the deities of the Yoruba people. There’s also a festival celebrated every year to pay homage to Osun.

Obudu Cattle Ranch

Situated on the picturesque Obudu Plateau, the Obudu Cattle Ranch is a place you should include in your itinerary when you visit Nigeria. The ranch has semi-temperate weather, a calming atmosphere, and an attractive landscape.

For accommodations, you can rent a room or hut on the ranch. While it’s open for tourists throughout the year, it’s better to visit the place between October and February. Don’t forget to send Flow top-up to your friends and family so that you can stay connected with them.

Yankari Games Reserve

Located in Bauchi State, the Yankari Games Reserve is a place where you can find different species of animals and plants. There are also caves in the area if you want some good old spelunking activity.

You can also find wells with interconnecting shafts used by slaves during the transatlantic slave trade era. The Yankari Games Reserve also features crystal clear warm springs where you can relax and enjoy in peace.

Kano City Walls

While it’s undeniable that the city of Kano is already taken over by modernity, you can still find remnants of its being the centre for commerce during the trans-Saharan trade era. One proof of this is the brown-mud walls protecting the city from invasion during that time.

Besides the city walls, there are mud houses that are constructed by the Hausa people. The marriage of old and modern influences create a unique ambiance to the city. Kano is a must-visit place if you want to be taken back to the old Nigeria.

Zuma Rock

Zuma Rock is among the most well-known tourist attractions in Nigeria. It’s a massive natural monolith – standing at 980 feet – that has a feature resembling a human face. There are myths and legends concerning this rock. For instance, the Zuba people see the mountains surrounding it as paying homage to the rock by maintaining a great distance from it.

You can climb or hike to the top of the rock and have a panoramic view of the city of Abuja. If you’re not into climbing, you can take a picture of this magnificent natural structure below. It’s best to visit it between April and October to catch sight of the most talked-about Zuma Rock Fire phenomenon.

Takeaway

Nigeria has many tourist attractions to offer to visitors. You can go to the Kano City Walls, Yankari Games Reserve, Obudu Cattle Ranch, Zuma Rock, Osun Sacred Grove, Tarkwa Bay Beach, and Ikogosi Cold and Warm Springs if you want a spectacular travel experience in this country.

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Nigerian Railway Corporation Begins Skeletal Sale of Online Tickets

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Railway ticket sale

By Modupe Gbadeyanka

After several calls by passengers for the sale of tickets online, the Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC) commenced test bookings on its platform.

This information was disclosed by the Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, who added that the skeletal sale is restricted to the Abuja to Kaduna route.

In a tweet posted via his Twitter handle on Wednesday, the Minister stated that the services would be extended to other routes from next week.

“Yes, we have commenced test bookings on the NRC e-ticketing platform, starting with the Abuja-Kaduna rail line. Next week, we’ll launch fully. Check it out and make bookings at nrc.tps.ng,” he said.

The adoption of online ticket sale is expected to reduce the ticket racketeering complained about at most rail stations in the country.

When Business Post checked the website provided by Mr Amaechi for the online booking, it was not accessible on the Mozilla Firefox browser but accessible on the Google Chrome platform.

It was observed that the bookings available on the Abuja and Kaduna destinations were only for two days, January 13 and 14. The booking was smooth, with safety information given as regards the COVID-19 protocols, which requires the use of hand sanitizer, washing of hands and wearing of a face mask.

The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari has transformed the almost dead rail sector in Nigeria. This has made him to be commended by many Nigerians.

The Nigerian Railway System pioneered the rapid opening up of the geographical area called Nigeria, therefore, represents the oldest modern form of transportation in Nigeria.

Railway development in Nigeria was initiated by private interest. This was later taken over by the then colonial government as Government Railway for the purpose of easy and cheap movement of bulk goods from the hinterlands to the seaports and vice versa.

The 112-year-old agency runs a unilaterally designed track system of 1067mm cape gauge. Only 30km of its track distribution is in double track and that is within Lagos area.

The Nigerian Railway System actually commenced rail business activities with the construction of the first rail line from Lagos to Ibadan (193km) between 1898 and 1901. By 1964 when the construction of 640km Kano – Maiduguri rail line, then known as Bornu extension, was completed, the present core of the railway network had been put in place.

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Gridlock: Rivers to Explore Marine Transportation

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Marine Transportation

By Adedapo Adesanya

In order to reduce traffic congestion, the Rivers State Government has announced plans to open up marine transportation in the state.

This came as the state government shutdown Creek Road in old Port Harcourt Township owing to vehicular and human traffic since last Monday.

Equally, the state government has also barred boat operators from using the Bonny-Bille Jetty.

Explaining the lines of action, the Rivers State Commissioner of Transportation, Mr Osima Ginah, said this will allow a proper cleanup of the area and completion of the construction work in multi-million naira ultra-modern Bonny-Bille jetty.

Mr Ginah said the state government has provided alternative jetties for water travellers using the Bonny-Bille jetty. These include – the Abonnema Wharf jetty, Tourist Beach, Borokiri Sandfill and Marine Base jetty.

He said ultimately, the government will improve facilities in jetties across the state and ensure the smooth running of the jetties.

“The closure is necessary to carry out this operation. The Bonny-Bille and Nembe jetty was in a very bad shape. The riverine communities that are using that jetty cried out and the governor intervened, awarded the contract and then rebuilt that jetty.

“The jetty has not been inaugurated; the people, traders and boat operators using the jetty are therefore not keeping it in good order.”

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