Some commercial drivers in Benin on Tuesday staged blocked major roads in the Edo capital to protest the enforcement of colour code by the state government.
The drivers in their numbers blocked the busy Sapele road, Ring road, Ugbowo road, Aduwawa, First East Circular road and Akpapava to vet their grievances.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the roadblocks caused a serious gridlock in the ancient city and made passengers stranded, with many resorting to trekking.
Speaking with NAN at Sapele road, Mr Samuel Omoriege said the state government was insensitive to the prevailing economic conditions when it gave a month’s notice to obtain colour code and paint their buses in Edo colour.
Omoriege said even though, drivers were saying they will not pay, government would give them six months before the enforcement.
“We are not saying we will not pay, but the notice is too short.
Government is not sensitive to our condition.
“Some of us are graduates without job.
For instance, I am a graduate of Auchi Polytechnic; it is unemployment that drove into this.
So we need time to raise money for the code and painting,” he said.
Speaking in similar vein, Mr James Akpotarie said the recent policies of the government to drive revenue in the state were too unfavourable to transport workers.
Akpotarie said the government had just recently reviewed the daily ticket fee from N600 to N1, 800 and on Sunday N800. “Where is government working on Sunday if not to mount further hardship on commercial drivers.
“We urge Gov. (Godwin) Obaseki to rescind the anti-people policy in order to restore law and order,” said the driver.
Addressing the protesters, Mr Washington Abbe, the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Transportation, said he would convey their request to the governor.
Abbe, however, noted that to appease them, all the vehicles impounded would be released while taskforce would also relax the enforcement pending the state government position on their request.
By Lucy Ogalue
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says work will soon commence for the construction of Bonny Deep Seaport.
Amaechi, in a statement by the Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Transport, Mr Eric Ojiekwe, disclosed this when he visited the proposed site for the project.
The minister noted that in choosing the site, considerations must be made towards cost reduction and ease in paying compensations.
He said that while the South East part of the Island was also viable, the most feasible might be the area to the West in Finima, as it would require less dredging.
“The experts have said it will take only 500 metres of dredging at this point to get to 17metres draught which is our target for the depth of the seaport.
”The moment you reclaim 500metres into the ocean, you get to 17metres draught. You don’t need further dredging. While on the other end, you need 1.16kms dredging to get to the water.
”It will be more expensive to dredge 1.16km than to build rail line to this place. We can do the cost analysis and come to a decision,” he said.
Amaechi also said selection of the area, when finally decided upon would ensure that NNPC pipes would not be tampered with or moved for the rail lines extending to the Seaport to be laid.
“It will also be easier to pay compensations here and take the rail through this area instead of running it through the other end where there are pipes.
”And, compensation will be paid on properties, not on land. If the land is not enough, the Federal Government would acquire more for the expansion.
The Acting Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr Mohammed Koko, said the essence of the event was to reconfirm the right location for the port, adding that final studies would be made and conclusions reached.
”The other location had pipes, so we believe that this one will be perfect. It has a natural draft of about 17 meters.
“The port which will have a capacity of about 500,000 TEUs on completion is a necessary infrastructure for Nigeria.
”Nigeria has over 823 km of coastline and we have always been saying that the idea of building deep seaports will bring more economic value to the country.
”And, Nigeria will eventually become a maritime hub in Africa or the West African sub-region,” he said.
Koko also said that construction would kick off within the year and run concurrently with the construction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line which also extends to the Bonny Deep Seaport.
Amaechi made the visit in company of the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Magdalene Ajani, and experts from the Ministry of Transportation, the NPA and the contractors, China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation Ltd. (CCECC).
By Lucy Ogalue
Sen. Gbemisola Saraki, the Minister of State for Transportation says one the priorities of the Muhammadu Buhari-led administration is to improve transportation infrastructure in the country.
Saraki said this at the ongoing 2021 Annual Retreat of the Nigeria Transportation Commissioners’ Forum (NTCF) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Transportation on Monday in Abuja.
The theme of the retreat is “Developing and Fostering Synergy in the Management of Sustainable Transport Policies”.
“The theme is very apt in view of the commitment of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in improving transportation infrastructure and services in order to meet the needs of our population and the Nigerian economy.
“At the heart of the economy, transport systems directly and indirectly impact GDP, living standards, employment and are enabling catalysts of the economy.
“The transportation sector is a nexus that connects all aspects of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP).
“For example, ensuring food security, a cardinal pillar of the ERGP will be impossible without the transportation systems that brings food from the farms to markets, factories and dinner tables.
“Nigeria’s transportation sector has for long been under significant strain with adverse impact on the country’s economic development, therefore, improving transportation infrastructure and services is one of the priorities of this administration as part of the ERGP.’’
According to Saraki, across the road, rail and maritime sub-sectors, there are unprecedented levels of development.
She said, however, that a lot needed to be done to attain the quality of transportation systems required to support the country’s economic aspirations.
“Amongst the modes of transport, only the road sector is on the concurrent list, thereby, requiring considerable coordination and synergies between the federal, the states and the local governments.
“It is our firm belief that the road transport sector can be a big contributor to national GDP, an enabler of economic growth and source of millions of jobs if properly harnessed.
“The road transport sector is beset by a myriad of challenges which require urgent and sustained intervention.
“In order to address these challenges, the Federal Ministry of Transportation has embarked on a Road Transport Transformation Programme with the theme “Moving Nigeria Safely and Securely into the Future.
“This is a comprehensive and far-reaching programme of reform touching on all the aspects of road transportation,’’ the lawmaker said.
On security, the senator said the ministry was collaborating with law enforcement authorities, coordinated by the Office of the National Security Adviser on a Road Transport Security Summit.
According to her, the summit, which will hold shortly will discuss, address and develop far-reaching solutions to the road transport security challenges.
Saraki said: “On the environmental front, we seek to develop and implement an eco-sustainability agenda for the road transport sector to support the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“This will include defining emission standards and transitioning to cleaner fuels and renewables.
“On gender diversity, we aim to improve the participation of women in the road transport sector through policies, incentives, training and empowerment initiatives.
“We are also aggressively promoting the use of technology within the road transport sector. This starts from the aforementioned licensing and registration regime to collecting passenger manifests, real time trip information, electronic payments systems, etc.
“This will go a long way toward delivering efficient transport services and is also a key element to improving security of road transport.
“The NITT has this year embarked on a National Transport Databank project, which will be the beginning of developing our national intelligent transport infrastructure.
“Finally, we are working to accelerate Nigeria’s compliance with and implementation of transport protocols and conventions including implementation of the ECOWAS Inter-State Road Transit Scheme (ISRT).
“Empowering the existing National Facilitation Committee on Road Transport and Transit created by ECOWAS in member states; and accelerating the construction and completion of National Freight Offices.’’
According to Saraki, there is an opportunity for Nigeria to leverage its geographical position, its large domestic market and industrial capacity to become the Transportation Hub for Africa with the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).
She said however that it would require smart, rigorous, foresighted planning and swift, diligent execution that would be done collectively to achieve the feat.
Saraki reiterated her commitment and passion to change the narrative of the road transport sub-sector in the country.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Dr Magdalene Ajani, also reiterated Federal Government’s commitment to ensure a multi-modal transportation system that would guarantee socio-economic prosperity of Nigeria by boosting the efficiency of trade/commerce, logistic and industrial sub-sectors of the economy.
Ajani said the potential for growth and development of the sub-sector was quite promising but in dire need of urgent attention, adding that it was considered critical to economic growth of the country.
“It is therefore incumbent upon those of us gathered in this hall today to explore innovative and transformative initiatives that will help improve the Road Transport Sub-sector for optimal performance and enhanced productivity.
“I therefore enjoin you as key players in the sub-sector to put in your best with a view to coming up with implementable policy recommendations in line with global best practices that will reposition the sub-sector for better performance.
“I encourage you all to approach this retreat with a forward-looking, long-term commitment to true stewardship needed to actualise the aspirations, goals and objectives of the various states and FCT as well as national cohesion in the transportation sector.
“I am optimistic that the recommendations and communiqué that emanate from this retreat will be implemented to the letter by all the 36 states of the federation and FCT. (NAN)(NAN)
By Lucy Ogalue
The Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation, (NRC), Fidet Okhiria, has buried his mother, Elder Rosa Okhiria (Nee Ijagbone), who died at the age of 85, in his country home in Iruekpen, Edo State.
A statement issued by the Director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Transportation, Eric Ojiekwe, said the late Rosa Okhiria died on March 1 and was buried on April 24.
The NRC boss said that his Mother lived a life of giving, helping the needy and empowering her immediate community.
He added that ” rather than mourning, this day calls for celebration of a life well spent”
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, in the company of his wife, Dame Judith Amaechi, prayed for the peaceful repose of Mama Okhiria and for God to fill the vacuum created by her exit.
According to Dr Magdalene Ajani, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transport, life expectancy in Nigeria is low, noting that for her to get to 85 is worthy of celebration.
Ajani equally acknowledged the selfless qualities of the late matriarch and prayed God to grant her eternal rest.
The Officiating Pastor, Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Pastor James Oluologun, in his sermon lauded the many qualities of Rosa Okhiria (aka Mama Medical).
Oluogun also disclosed that the deceased donated the piece of land on which the church in Iruekpen stood today.
Dignitaries in attendance at the burial include, Wife of the Chief of Defence Staff, Victoria Irabor, the Auditor-General of the Federation; Adolphus Aghughu, APC Edo gubernatorial candidate in the last election, Osagie Ize-Iyamu and members of the National Assembly among others.(NAN)