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Lekki Deep Sea Port: Another Apapa port beckons

—–as Amaechi confesses  FG too broke to connect seaport with rail
Eyewitness reporter
The Lekki Deep Sea Port, the first and biggest port facility in the West Africa sub-region, may become another Apapa port that is notorious for its malignant traffic gridlock.
This is because the multi-billion dollars port facility will not be after all linked with the much-anticipated rail line meant to decongest the already congested Lekki-Ajah road.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has confessed that the Federal Government lacks the financial capacity to undertake such a rail project.
Amaechi make this startling revelation when he undertook an inspection tour of the port complex which is expected to be completed in June and functional by September, this year.

The Minister, who was in the company of the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello-Koko, and the Permanent Secretary of transportation ministry, Dr Ajani Magdalene, lamented that in as much as he would have loved to link the port with the rail line, the paucity of funds has incapacitated the Federal Government to do so.
“As a Minister of Transportation, I imagined a lot of things that I could have implemented.
“I imagined that the Lagos-Calabar rail line would start from here, that was my imagination, but, the Lagos-Calabar rail project needs $11.1 billion funding but, there were no such funds at the moment for the project”, he lamented,
The Minister’s confession has now put paid to the expectation of industry stakeholders who advised and recommended that to avoid the recreation of the notorious Apapa gridlock at Lekki deep seaport, the facility, as a matter of expediency, must be connected with a rail line.
According to them, this is necessary in order not to further exacerbate the already congested Lekki-Ajah road.
However, the Minister advised the port contractors to invest in the rail sector, adding that the government will either do tax reduction or do something to help them.”Another advice I could give is if they want to invest, they can invest in rail and then the government will either do tax reduction or do something to help them.

“If we get the 11.1billion as it is, we would probably have to divert the rail line, because Lagos-Calabar rail line actually goes into Lagos city, we can divert it to come to the seaport in Lekki,” he stated.

The minister further disclosed that Lekki deep seaport, when completed and operational, would contribute $360 billion to the Nigerian economy over the course of 45 years.

He said the deep seaport was “a privately funded project, over time, they (contractors), will collect their revenue from the commercial activities before they hand over to the Federal Government.

“But obviously, taxes will be collected here, even they (contractors) will pay taxes, I am not sure there were any taxes mentioned in the agreement, but I doubt if there is any tax exemption.

“So, we will collect taxes here, the confidence in giving them the project is because of the taxes that we will collect here that will help us in the construction of other projects.”

Amaechi, further explained that the contractors will have to recover the money they invested in the project, stating that “in financial terms, in the process of recovering their money, they will contribute to the GDP of the nation annually”.

He said the project will contribute over “$360 billion over the years. It sounds much, but we actually need more of that money to accomplish what we want to achieve.”

On the expansion of the seaport, the Minister complained that the port was not spacious enough to accommodate high-level economic activities in years to come.

“It also depends on how much the economy will grow before then. The growth of the economy will put pressure on the expansion.

“The argument we had in the cabinet is that the need for a deep seaport at Lekki was a result of the fact that the demand for port activities in the country has exceeded the supply of Tincan and Apapa around Lagos.

“This is the first deep seaport in Nigeria, what we had all this while are river ports, the Tincan is a river port, the Apapa is a river port and port Harcourt.

“Right here you have 16.5 meters drafts which are good for the country, but the country needs more than just one of these ports because of the increase in commercial activities in the future.
“We need just more than Lagos deep seaport and for me, before I leave office, I will emphasise on the construction of the Bonny deep seaport,” he stated.Amaechi revealed that the deep port will be completed in June and operational by September 2022.

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Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison

The Eyewitness reporter

A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.

However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.

As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.

The following month, it intervened in an alleged attack on a commercial vessel, killing four pirates and capturing four other suspects.

“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.

Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.

 Danish authorities deemed it unsafe to release him in Ghana. His leg was amputated as a result of his injuries.

Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.

Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.

They were released from detention on the frigate and put to sea in a small dinghy in the Gulf of Guinea.

Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.

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Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo

 

— as government shifts resumption of Abuja-Kaduna rail services to December
The Eyewitness reporter
As part of the multi-layer security measures put in place on the troubled Abuja-Kaduna train route, the federal government has announced that no passenger will be allowed to buy tickets for train services without a National Identification Number (NIN).
In addition, no minor will be allowed onboard unless registered by an adult with a NIN who cannot register more than four minors per trip.
Reviewing the security measures put in place ahead of the resumption of the Abuja-Kaduna train route, the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, said these and other security initiatives which the government has taken are necessary to forestall the reoccurrence of the sad event which occurred on March 28th, 2022 on the route when the train was derailed by insurgents who killed and kidnapped passengers.
The minister, who on Sunday at Kaduna expressed satisfaction over the level of security measures in place, also said the steps taken so far will also stop ticket racketeering which has been the order of the day among the railway staff on the route.
The Minister also expressed confidence that the measures put in place are adequate enough for the train service to commence.” There is sensitive equipment that we have deployed that I will not reveal. The other thing I can tell you is that for every journey, the train is monitored every second on the screen.

” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.

The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.

“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.

“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.

“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.

“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.

“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.

Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.

“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”

We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.

“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.

“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.

The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.

“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.

The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.

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As Nigerdock recants operational breaches, FG may lift suspension on the facility

The Eyewitness reporter
The Federal Government has expressed its readiness to lift the suspension order on Nigerdock following its willingness to abide by the rules and its contributions to the growth of the National economy.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, stated this recently when he visited the firm in Lagos in the company of the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye and some Management Staff of the Ministry.
Addressing the Chief Executive Officer, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani and other officials of the company, the Minister pointed out that the reason why they were suspended was as a result of complaints from other Terminal Operators, saying Nigerdock had operating advantages over them.
“What led to your suspension was that I received complaints from Terminal Operators, saying that you are not on the same level with them. In the sense that they pay more to the government than you do. You’re likely to attract freight at a much lower cost to the detriment of businesses”,  the Minister disclosed.
He, therefore, urged them to liaise with Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to work out all the operational licenses needed to enable them to operate and the latter will forward the same to the Minister of Transportation whose prerogative it is to give approvals.
Speaking further, the Minister said: “We will never do anything to undermine the things you are doing here in terms of generating wealth and jobs for Nigerians.  The only thing we are saying is that the law should be followed. We should not encourage lawlessness “.
Responding, the CEO, Nigerdock, Maher Jarmakani, said the firm has taken notable steps in this regard as they have been granted bonded permits by the Nigerian Customs and they are currently working with Nigerian Ports Authority to ensure all processes of getting the needed approvals are followed accordingly.
“We are seeking your support Honourable Minister and that is why we wrote a letter of appeal for your guidance and your support to see that we have followed all processes and procedures” Jarmakani stated.
Furthermore, Jarmakani informed the Minister that in the 30 years of its existence, Nigerdock has employed more Nigerians than its peers, assuring that the company will not undermine the country’s extant rules and regulations.
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