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NECA urges FG to address power issues in Nigeria

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The Nigeria Employers’ Consultative Association (NECA) has urged the Federal Government to strategically address the challenges in the power sector.
The Director-General, Dr Timothy Olawale, made the appeal in a statement on Wednesday in Lagos.
Olawale said that resolving the issues in the power sector would be a major step toward reviving the economy and returning it to the path of steady growth.
“While NECA commends government for the renewed vigour in solving the electricity crisis, we urge that it should continue to live up to its obligations as stipulated in the terms of the privatisation.
“We also urge the distribution companies to expedite action in distributing pre-paid metres to all consumers, ” he said.
The NECA boss said that while it was desirable that cost reflective tariff was instituted, it was imperative that the infrastructural challenge in the sector was addressed.
He said that a major challenge for organised businesses and consumers generally was the incidence of estimated billing, which had pitted the Distribution Companies (DisCos) against consumers.
“Electricity consumers, generally, will not challenge the payment of a cost reflective tariff, if electricity is provided.
“It is paramount that pre-paid meters are installed for all consumers to increase the confidence of Nigerians, rather than the current controversial estimated billing, ” he said.
Olawale called for a staggered approach to cost and service reflective tariffs.
According to him, it will allow DisCos enter into agreements with customer clusters for cost reflective tariffs, pegged at an improved quality of service level.
“These customer clusters will act as test cases for the full implementation of cost reflective tariff.
“Adequate consideration should also be given to the end-users and players in the electricity supply chain with a view to adequately balance the various interests, ” he said.

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Just-in: Fire guts fuel tankers, vehicles in Lagos

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There is a fire outbreak, which has gutted a fuel tanker, at Anthony inward Gbagada, Lagos State.

This was disclosed by the Federal Fire Service via its Twitter handle on Friday evening. The incident, which occurred around 10 pm, has razed at least two vehicles.

The agency urged road users to avoid the area and take alternative routes.

Also, the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Agency, Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, confirmed the incident.

He said, “The Agency responded to distress calls and upon arrival at the scene of incident, it was discovered that a tanker with unknown registration number conveying PMS lost control while in motion and subsequently fell sideways.

“This led to an explosion in which two unidentified vehicles were burnt.”

A joint team of responders led by the Federal Fire Service, LASEMA, LASG fire service, LRU fire unit, Nigeria Police and LASTMA are working together to curb the inferno from escalating further.

Details soon …

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Arik Air’s operation shut by Aviation unions

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Arik Air operation has been shut down by Aviation unions over the airline’s alleged failure to pay seven months’ salary arrears of workers.

This was disclosed by a source in the airline, who claimed anonymity because he is not permitted to speak on behalf of Arik Air.

According to him, aggrieved unions, the National Union of Air Transport Employees and the Air Transport Services Senior Staff Association of Nigeria decided to withdraw their services due to an alleged increment of Terminal levy by Bi- Courtney and other anti-labour practice.

Details later …

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How to curb corruption at the port

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Former President, Lagos Chamber of Commerce and Industry (LCCI), Mr Babatunde Ruwase, says the issues of corruption at the nation’s ports can be checked by automation.

Ruwase made his view known at a webinar organised by the Maritime Anti-Corruption Network (MACN), with support from Siemens AG and in partnership with the Convention on Business Integrity (CBI) on Thursday.

The topic of the webinar was,’Corruption in the Cargo Clearance Process at the Nigerian Port’.

He said that what should be done to address the problem was to automate the system, have a single window that would ensure checks on what one was doing.

“Presently in the port, the system is so structured that you cannot do something without paying your way out and the various reforms put in place have not gotten the required impact.

“We need to get out of this manual inspection, have timelines, an ombudsman system, and ground rules that are clear to eliminate corruption in the port,” he said.

In his contribution, Dr Kayode Opeifa, Vice-Chairman, Presidential Task Force on Restoration of Law and Order in Apapa, said there was a need to know those involved in cargo clearance at the ports.

“There are people called ‘Movers’ in the port and also some calling themselves stakeholders who do not have business at the port, but their activities have led to corruption and this needs to be checked.

“All stakeholders must show interest if we want to remove corruption at the ports, we should not allow touts to take over,” he said.

He said that the standard operating procedure of all involved in cargo clearance should be looked into, as some organisations have the policy, but on paper and not implemented.

Mr Olayiwola Shittu, former president, Association of Licensed Customs Agent (ANLCA) said discretionary powers of officials who run cargo processes and unwillingness to tackle issues fuel corruption at the nation’s ports.

Shittu, also the Managing Director, Borderless Alliance, said that the unwillingness to tackle issues arising from cargo clearance and the delay which led to extra cost made some people to cut corners.

“I have been in the port business since 1969 and there have been issues of corruption in the port, it is a very difficult issue that has been tackled by various stakeholders, all to no avail.

“It is so unfortunate because there are so many determinants to corruption in the port, such as the shippers and their agents, terminal operators, security agencies, transport and haulage companies and government agencies.

“All these determinants have their various functions and powers, and as long as they have discretionary powers and no way of being challenged, it becomes a problem and leads to facilitating of corruption in the port,” he said.

Shittu said that there was need for a Central Ministerial Intervention Agency to harmonise decisions in the port, as time wasted in the supply of cargo was the fertile ground that created and facilitated corruption.

Mr Muda Yusuf, Director General, LCCI, said that service system and systemic issues made it difficult to tame corruption in the ports.

According to him, there is problem of impunity and there are no structured, reliable and dependable processes of redress.

He said that in the chamber of commerce, it had been a very frustrating experience trying to intervene in some matters, and they had approached the authorities most times without making headway.

Yusuf said that trade facilitation with a form of measurement should be the Key Performance Index (KPI) for all involved in cargo clearance, rather than revenue.

Mr Vivek Menon of the MACN said that they had embarked on a project with the Federal Government to achieve port efficiency and address challenges.

“We did a Corruption Risk Assessment and came out with a Standard Operating Procedure of the various agencies such as the Customs, Port Health that come on board for inspection and decided on best way to harmonise them to reduce time.

“Also, there is a Grievance Report Mechanism whereby one can lay complaints to be addressed and we have been able to successfully tackle eight cases last year,” he said.

The News Agency of Nigeria reports that MACN is a global business network working towards the vision of a maritime industry free of corruption that enables fair trade to the benefit of society at large.

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