The Senate Committee on Marine Transport has assured the managing director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) that it will review the Solid Minerals Act passed in 2007 and the subsisting National Inland Waterways Act to remove conflicts in the two laws.
The NIWA Managing Director, Mr Zubairu Yakubu, had complained to the Committee when he appeared before it in January that the new Solid Minerals law infringed the NIWA mandate in some provisions.
He said, “For purposes of dredging and inland water transportation, the Act establishing NIWA gives us that right. The Solid Minerals Act is, however, saying that sand in the river belongs to solid minerals and that NIWA should not touch it. The Solid Minerals Act has rendered the NIWA Act as a subsidiary legislation. The NIWA Act is still subsisting.”
Yakubu said that NIWA had taken the issue before a Federal High Court in Lagos for interpretation, adding that the passage of the Solid Minerals Act did not follow due process. Senator Gbemi Saraki-Fowora, chairperson of the committee promised that the committee would review the conflicts.
NRC reopens old Lagos-Kano line
The Nigerian Railway Corporation is to resume train operation on the old Lagos-Kano rail line on Friday, after about 16 months of inactivity.
This follows the completion of a major work on the washout points, which forced the corporation to close the line last year. The Lagos-Kano line was closed after downpour last year caused serious damage to some portions of the track in the northern part of the country.
The Managing Director of the corporation, Mr. Jetson Nwankwo, said on Monday that about 19 areas were affected of which 18 had been fixed, adding that the only point left to cover could not in any way disrupt the traffic.
The NRC also recently resumed the haulage of petroleum products from the south to the northern parts of the country, following the rehabilitation of some of its grounded wagons. About 500 tank wagons were prepared and dedicated for this purpose.
The return of the petroleum products train began with the movement of bitumen from Port Harcourt to the north.
Nwankwo said that the contractors were happy with the service because it was cheaper and easier than moving the material by road.
Bayelsa awards N38bn road contract
Bayelsa State government has awarded contract for the construction of the Yenagoa-Oporoma-Ukubie road to Julius Berger at the cost of N38billion.
Governor Timipre Sylva disclosed the award of the contract and reiterated the determination of his administration to leave behind a legacy every Bayelsan and the entire Ijaw nation would be proud of.
Chief Sylva assured that greater attention will be accorded road construction in the state, saying that when the multi billion naira project was completed it would impact positively on the socio-economic well-being of people in the hinterland and improve the security situation in the area. DDH gathers that a whopping sum of N35 billion has been set aside by the Bayelsa State Government for various dredging projects in the 2008 financial year.
Trainees Graduates Petition Senate against NPA
The Association of Technical Trainee Graduates of the Nigerian Ports Authority has appealed to the Senate Marine committee to intervene in their plight so that the NPA may employ them after their studies contrary to current situation when they have not been employed.
The Association president, Mr. Friday Oyemoye, explained that after their training in February 2007, the NPA management technically disengaged them by stopping their salaries contrary to the norm of engaging them afterwards.
However, NPA‘s Executive Director, Finance and Administration, Mr Adetola Atekoja, said that, “With the port reforms policy of government, it became apparent that graduates of that school would no longer be employed. We have ensured that some of them got employment elsewhere”, he said.
Lagos 4th Mainland Bridge to gulp N160bn
The Lagos State Government has said that its proposed Fourth Mainland Bridge will gulp N160bn. Governor Babatunde Fashola said a survey had already been conducted for the project
Fashola spoke in his Alausa Secretariat office while receiving members of the Silverbird Television Group in Lagos. He said the government was only waiting for the Environmental Impact Assessment report for work on the bridge to begin. Fashola added that the project was being delayed because of inflation, adding that the government would ensure its completion before the end of its tenure.
He said, “The 26-kilometre Fourth Mainland Bridge will commence from Langbasa in Lekki, Eti-Osa Local Government Area and will link Victoria Island to Ipakodo, a Lagos suburb in the Ikorodu Local Government Area. The road will provide access from the hinterland to Victoria Island, which will reduce traffic on the ever-busy Third Mainland Bridge and other bridges linking the mainland to the island.”
FG okays new mining policy for Nigeria
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) in February 2008 approved a new metal and mining policy for the country to replace an old one which came into force in 1964.
Speaking to journalists in Abuja after an FEC meeting, Alhaji Tunji Ishola, Minister of Mines and Steel Development said certain things were intolerable at the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, including the fact that ” With the passing of the Nigerian Mineral and Mining Act 2007, aside from the fact that certain aspects of the policy were obsolete, some of the provisions of this law had to be brought within policy focus.”
Under the new policy, the government, instead of being owner operator, will now be the administrator-regulator while private-sector miners will take over operations.
The Minister said the government will henceforth focus on generating electric power from coal, turning closed mining area to farmland for agriculture, registering artisanal and small-scale miners in a national database, forming co-operatives for small scale operators to aid their adoption of improved technology, etc. He however denied that any mining titles had been revoked, saying only that the ministry wanted a revalidation of about 2,300 mining licenses to sift unqualified operators.
Yar’Adua Lifts Ban on Cement Importation
President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua has lifted the ban on the importation of bulk cement into the country. The lifting of the ban, according to the government, is with a view to bridging the deficit of 11.5 million tonnes in the supply of cement, which has been recurrent in the industry in the last few years.
Minister of Commerce and Industry, Mr. Charles Ugwuh, who announced Federal Government’s decision in Abuja at a stakeholders’ meeting, explained that the President was concerned about the shortage of cement as against demand in the market.
The annual demand for cement is estimated at about 18 million metric tonnes.
But the annual consumption of cement in the country for last year was estimated at 11.125 million metric tonnes. The lifting of the ban on cement importation came on the heels of a proposal submitted by Ugwuh to President Yar’Adua after the stakeholders meeting held in October 2007.
Committee on Ship Repairs Inaugurated.
The Federal Government has inaugurated a committee to see to the repair of ships and related watercraft used in cabotage and inland water transport trade.
The Honourable Minister of State for Water Transportation, Prince John Okechukwu Emeka inaugurated the 9-member Ministerial Committee on Ship Repairs and Maintenance in Abuja in January.
According to the Minister, “the maritime sector has the potential of being the second highest foreign exchange earner in the economy; but unfortunately, these great potentials have remained untapped due to the almost total domination of the sector by foreign investors and operators.”
Chairman of the Committee is the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Ade Dosunmu while other members are Mr. I. Shekarau (Executive Director, Shipping Development) NIMASA, Dr A. Abubakar Deputy Director in Federal Ministry of Transportation, Captain I. Ebubeogu, General Manager, Marine, Nigeria Ports Authority, Mazi O.C. Nzem, (Special Assistant to the Minister), representatives of Indigenous Ship owners Association of Nigeria, (ISAN), Zenith Bank and Naval Dockyard. Mrs. Bakari-Girei of the Ministry of Transportation will serve as the Secretary.
The committee was given 4 weeks to submit its report. with the following terms of reference: to examine the proposal for ship repair and maintenance fund; identify conditionality for accessing the funds; assess the viability of ship of repair yards in Nigeria; examine modalities for sustaining the subsidy; determine the appropriate rate and duration for loan; and, look into any other matter which the committee considers relevant to improve indigenous capacity in the Maritime industry.
Operators Withdraw Trawlers over Pirates’ Attacks
Nigeria’s fishing industry operators recalled their fishing trawlers in January following the loss of five men in two-day attacks by pirates along Nigerian coastal waters. This brought the number of seamen killed in January alone to seven.
First National Vice President of the Nigerian Trawler Owners’ Association, Mrs. Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi said, after an emergency meeting of the association, weekend, that pirates’ attacks had been on for a while, “but it is getting worse by the second. They come fully armed with AK47 rifles and steal our equipment worth millions of naira. In some cases, they move the trawlers into the creeks and steal our catch, which also runs into millions. We have seen our packaging materials in neighbouring countries.”
“The last straw that will destroy the industry is the new dimension where pirates now seize vessels and demand ransom. We do not have the money and protection that the oil companies have, so we have decided to withdraw our trawlers because we fear for our lives.”
Executive Secretary of the Association, Dr. Michael Bissong said the attacks used to be limited to the Niger Delta area of the coastal, but now occur all along the Nigerian coastline from Calabar, Cross River State, to Lekki in Lagos State.
No fewer than 170 Trawlers, owned by private individuals generate about $60 million in export revenue for the country annually. It exports about 30 varieties of seafood including fish, prawns, shrimps (rated the best in the world), lobsters and crabs.
Onyema-Orakwusi said the development is a threat to the industry, which employs, about 50, 000 people, directly and indirectly. As at press time however, the trawler owners have returned to work.
Lagos plans new truck terminals
Mr. Young Arebamen, boss of the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority said the state is considering constructing more trailer parks in the megacity to control haulage trucks’ parking and other related menace. The first one was commissioned last year at Orile Iganmu. The development will be in league with private firm. According to a new traffic law now passed in the state, some traffic offences carry a penalty of N50,000.00 fine or six months in prison or both.
Mr Arebamen was said to have confirmed that over 300 trucks parked haphazardly around the major roads within the metropolis had been impounded. He said that the owner of each of the impounded vehicles was requested to pay N120,000 as penalty fee to the coffers of the state government to get back the truck.
“We intend to swoop on other areas of the state. We’ve found out that the menace is everywhere, although it is more serious in some areas.”
Arebamen said, “Those who constitute the major problem come from places such as Kano, Kaduna, Abuja to load fuel in Lagos. They just park anywhere, claiming ignorance about the truck terminal.
NIMASA to Penalize Illegal dockworkers
THE Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has warned terminal operators to stop employing dock workers unregistered with the agency. The fine for contravention is N1m. The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has spearheaded several petitions against the terminal operators for recruiting from the black market, that is those alleged to be not in the books of the agency.
According to the law, all dock workers and tally clerks must register with the NIMASA, which keeps the register of workers in a pool from where Terminal operators must recruit.
According to the new development, any terminal operator found to have engaged dock-workers from the black markets would have to pay a fine of N1,000,000.00 for each of the workers employed from outside the legal market. Also each of the workers who allowed himself to be employed from the black markets would be made to pay a fine of N50 000.00.
The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Shamsudeen Ade Dosunmu, says a period of grace would first be given to the terminal operators for them to register with the Agency and to ensure all their dock workers are registered with the `Agency, adding that the move was not for revenue collection but to ensure compliance with the relevant laws of the country