Lagos targets 3,000 Megawatts power distribution to homes, Land Use adjustment

By Abdulwaheed Usamah,

The Lagos State Government has disclosed that its plans for 2018 was to begin working on how it would able to have distribution of 3, 000 megawatts to homes across the state through an embedded power supply project.

It also disclosed that has plans to also consider reviewing of Land Use Charge Law so as to improve values of property in Lagos and provide both local and foreign investors a friendly environment.

Specifically, the power project, aimed at delivering an estimated 3,000 Megawatts to homes and industries, is expected to lift the economy of Lagos, while revised Land Use Charge Law had been designed to improve the values of property in the State.

recently,  the Lagos State House of Assembly announced passage of two bills expected to provide legal framework for programmes by enacting the Lagos State Embedded Power Supply Law 2018 and the Lagos State Land Use Charge Law 2018.

As gathered, both laws were expected to be signed in few days by the State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode.

The  Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Kehinde Bamigbetan, said the two strategic laws were part of the grand plan of the present administration to boost the economy and make life easier and comfortable for the people.

Through a statement released on Saturday from the commissioner office, Bamigbetan stated that power  programme would provide enabling environment for private sector to generate not less than 1000 mega watts every yearly in  first phase of three years by using gas to produce power and distributing the electricity to consumers.

He assured that the state government would guarantee off-take of generated power, indicatong that the product was expected to expand distribution network and increase metering capacity of the electricity distribution firms in Lagos state including Eko Distribution Company and Ikeja Electricity Distribution Company.”

Bamigbetan said to ensure return on investment by participating companies and encourage more electricity companies to invest in the embedded power sector, the law has been arranged to provide the framework for the government to support the firms in the collection of tariffs and enforcement of contracts.

“A novel feature of the law is the introduction of provisions for the prosecution and sentencing of those who tap electricity illegally or use the power produced through the embedded power system without entering into contracts with the companies.

“Defined as power theft, industry watchers believe that this is the first law to provide penalties for a major cause of financial failures of electricity companies and with regular power supply in homes and industries, the Lagos State Government expects a giant leap in the production and growth of the economy,” Bamigbetan said.

On the land use charge, the commissioner explained that the planned review was considered as the answer to the agitations of residents for a transparent process of determining rates.

He disclosed that inder the revised law, estate valuers authorised to assess and value tenements will ensure that the data are reliable and the indices are explicit.

“The revised law also exempts tenements owned by non-profit organisations, religious bodies and public cemeteries and burial grounds”, he added.

 

 

Work begins at second Niger bridge site

By Abdulwaheed Usamah, 

Work has commenced on second Niger Bridge after contrsctors moved to site, the development of whch had continue generating Anambra State residents rain pof commention on President Muhammadu Buhari for ensuring work took of at the site.

However, residents, on Monday, expression their various satisfaction on president’s fulfillment of his promise which maintained indicated that it was dear to his heart.

It was reported that the idea of the second Niger Bridge, awarded to Julius Berger,  was envisaged to reduce the load and pressure on the existing Niger Bridge.

Sources at project site reported that workers from the contractor have been adequate and progressing beyond expectation.

One of the residents,  Prof. Dennis Aribodo,  Department of Public Health Parasitology, Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, who spoke on the work, described the bridge as a necessary link to promote the economy of the country.”

“The bridge invariably serves as an alternative if anything happens to old Niger Bridge. It is an important economic project of huge benefit to the country,” he said.

Aribodo stressed the need for proper supervision of the project to ensure that work was carried out to specification.

Another one,  a food vendor close to the project site, Anthonia Udem, who expressed satisfaction over the project, decried the slow pace of work by the construction company and described attitude of the construction firm unacceptable.

“I am happy about the work, just that these people want to play us 419 again. I say so because this work is supposed to be ready by now but they will work today and tomorrow they won’t work.

“I want government to execute the project fast so that the bridge will be useful to us and everybody will be happy,” Udem said.

On his part, Mr Chukwuemeka Okonkwo, a sand excavator near the project site, also decried the slow pace of work at the Bridge.

Okonkwo said based on the importance of this project, the work should be carried out both day and night to ensure early completion.

“The Federal Government should provide the necessary logistics like money because when you mobilize and give them enough money, they will get more equipment and labour,” Okonkwo said.

However, a top official of Julius Berger Nig. Plc, who pleaded anonymity, said work resumed fully at the site in November 2017.

According to the source, the community cannot dictate the pace of work though they see we are working.

“Julius Berger has a peculiar way of working on site. Currently, we are doing mostly piling now on ground after the one done in the water. We have equally finished the piling on the Asaba side.

“What we are doing now is what we call early works four, which means we have done that of one to three and these are preparation for the major work to begin.

“Early works four will be completed by June or July for the major work to commence.

“From what the Federal Ministry of Works has told us, there will be no stoppage until work is completed; meaning, funding will not interrupt the project or slow it down,” the source said.

However, the source said the issue of compensation on affected communities cropped up occasionally, noting however, that the Federal Ministry of Works had equally promised to resolve the issue.

Kenya to launch $20bn social housing project

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah with agency report

The Kenya Government has concluded plans to launch a $20 billion social housing project to ease the housing deficit in the country.

Under the project, the east African nation plans to construct one million low-cost houses at a cost of $20,000 each, over the next five years, to reduce current housing deficit which stood at 1.85 million.

The cabinet secretary, Ministry of Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development, James Macharia, told newsmen during a press briefing in Nairobi, that a request for interest has been issued to international and domestic firms to undertake the mass low-cost housing venture.

Macharia, who disclosed the government plans during the Stakeholders Forum on Validation of Kenya Building Research Centers Strategic Plan 2017 to 2022, hinted that about 60 firms, that have previously embarked on such project, have indicated interest.

“We will soon award the contract after completion of the tender process. Though, we are going to borrow heavily from nations such as China that have been able to construct high-rise apartments which are safe for human occupation at an affordable cost in order to roll out a high number of quality houses,” he said.

While attributing increase in housing deficit to rapid urbanization, Macharia noted that the shortage was responsible for proliferation of slums.

The cabinet secretary said that the social houses will be built through a public-private partnership as government resources are not sufficient to construct the houses.

According to him, the private sector will be offered a number of incentives and subsidies in order to ensure the houses are affordable to ordinary citizens.

The ministry of infrastructure, housing and urban development is fast tracking the enactment of the Kenya Building Research Institute bill that will create a research organization to spearhead innovation of the latest technology to lower the cost of construction in the country.

Ogun dismisses claims on Abeokuta-Sagamu interchange project

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

The Ogun State Commissioner for Works and Infrastructure, Olamilekan Adegbite, has dismissed claims that the Federal Government has taken over construction of the 10-lane, 45-kilometre Abeokuta-Sagamu Interchange, noting that the state government is responsible for the road project.

Adegbite stressed that the road project was embarked upon in order to prepare the state capital for next stage of industrialisation and economic growth that was bound to happen in the state.

The commissioner dismissed the claim in a statement signed by Head of Media in the ministry, Ayokunle Ewuoso, on Monday.

“The visibility of the road is something that we think is desirable, the project itself was embarked upon to prepare for the next stage of industrialisation and economic growth of the state, especially the capital, and for the Federal Government taking over, no. The Federal Government has even yet to pay us for the ones we have done,” he said.

Adegbite also stated that the Federal Government had yet to refund the money spent by the state on the construction of various federal roads across the state.

He recalled that the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, during an inspection and assessment tour of federal roads and ongoing housing projects in the state early this year, had assured the state government of the Federal Government’s commitment to refund the N124bn spent on the various federal roads.

The commissioner further stated that the 32km Sango/Ijoko/Oke-Aro/Ojodu Abiodun road project was ongoing, adding that the Ministry of Rural Development would soon embark on the construction of rural and semi-urban roads in the state.

2.3bn still live without toilet globally-UN

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah with agency report

The United Nation (UN) has said that despite huge progress made in technology, science and industry over the last century, millions of people globally still lack access to toilets.

According to World Health Organization (WHO) data from 2015, 2.3 billion people are living without a toilet worldwide while 10 percent of the people meet their toilet needs out in the open.

Apparently not satisfied with this statistics, UN declared Nov. 19 as World Toilet Day in 2001 to draw attention to the issue, with wastewater as the 2017 theme for the UN day that would be marked on Sunday.

In the Sustainable Development Goals listed by the United State (US), the aim is to reach everyone with sanitation, and halve the proportion of untreated wastewater and increase recycling and safe reuse.

Only 39 percent of the world’s population use a toilet that is connected with a safe sewerage system while 10 percent of the world’s population consumes food that has been smeared with wastewater.

India, which is accepted as one of world’s nuclear powers, leads the chart regarding the number of people who do not have toilet in their home.

Approximately 818 million people are deprived of toilets in India; In China, the figure is 607 million, Indonesia 109 million, Nigeria 103 million and Pakistan 98 million.

The UN also notes that women and girls who meet their toilet needs out in the open sometimes become vulnerable to rape and other forms of sexual violence.

According to Amnesty International, millions of women and girls get away from their homes at least 300 meters to find a suitable place to satisfy their toilet need.

Local cement production saves $2m annually in Nigerian economy-Manufacturer

By Newsdesk

The Chairman of BUA Group, Abdulsamad Rabiu, has hinted that the 25 million tonnes of cement produced by local manufacturers has assisted the Federal Government to retain $2 million annually in the country’s economy.

According to Rabiu, The most important thing I think is that the cement industry in Nigeria will continue to save Nigeria a lot of foreign exchange.

He disclosed the funds saved in the country’s economy while addressing State House Correspondents after a meeting of the Presidential Industrial Advisory Council chaired by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo at the Presidential Villa.

The chairman stressed that the money would have been lost to foreign economy if cement plants were not established in the country, saying, we would have to import.

“If for example, you look at what we have produced in Nigeria today, maybe 25 million tonnes to 30 million tonnes, if we quantify that in terms of foreign exchange it is almost two billion dollars per year.

“And not only do we have to spend money in terms of foreign exchange import but the price of cement definitely would have been higher than what it is today,’’ he added.

Rabiu also spoke about the expansion of his company’s facilities in order to make more cement available for local consumption, adding, the company’s Sokoto plant would be inaugurated early 2018 while second cement line in Edo state would become functioning probably at the second quarter of next year.

Rabiu mentioned the reduction of price of Low Pour Fuel Oil (LPFO), and the appreciation of the local currency in the foreign exchange market as things that helped the sub-sector to grow.

“The foreign exchange has also come down; it is stable even though as we all know the cement industry does not really require a lot of foreign exchange. But the fall in foreign exchange rate has really helped in terms of the things that we import into Nigeria like spare parts, some raw materials like gypsum,’’ the industrialist said.

He acknowledged that a lot of issues to advance the industrial sector were discussed at the monthly Presidential Advisory Council meeting.

“As you all know this council is one that is trying to bring private sector together with the government to come up with ideas on how we can improve on a lot of things.

“Most especially infrastructure, power, roads and so many other things; I believe this is a good thing. The Council has made a lot of progress. A lot of areas have been identified that the government together with the private sector are going to work to see that work can start as soon as possible.

“In fact, I believe last week, one of the ideas that we presented was deliberated upon at the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting and approval was given. We are looking forward to another meeting and I believe in the next few months a lot of things will take shape as far as this council is concerned,’’ Rabiu added.

Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun

FEC okays road construction tax relief for private firm

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

The Federal Government has approved a tax relief scheme for individuals and private firms that embark on construction of federal roads across the country, aimed at attracting private sector involvement in provision of infrastructures.

According to Federal Government, the tax relief under Road Trust Fund (RTF) concept was jointly developed by Ministry of Finance and its Ministry of Power, Works and Housing counterpart, to lure more private firms into construction of federal roads which had been described by motorist as dead traps.

RTF is expected to mobilise significant capital into road provision in order to unlock socio-economic development as well as facilitate investment across all areas of Nigeria to achieve inclusive economic growth.

The approved tax relief was part of the Memorandum for establishing RTF which was presented by Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun, to the Federal Executive Council (FEC) at its meeting presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari.

It was gathered that Federal roads carry more than 80% of national vehicular and freight traffic, accounting for 17 per cent of the total national road network.

 Addressing newsmen on Thursday after the weekly FEC meeting, the Finance Minister explained that RTF would facilitate and incentivise private sector involvement in Nigeria’s Federal road infrastructure.

Earlier, the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola and Minister of Information and National Orientation, Lai Mohammed, were also at the post-FEC briefing where the plan was disclosed.

Adeosun said: “It is a form of Public Private Partnership that will accelerate the provision of Federal Roads by allowing private sector operators to collectively fund road provision in exchange for tax credits. This will complement Federal Government’s budgetary allocation to roads. 

“Private sector participation is being incentivised through a Tax Credit Scheme that enables all participating companies to claim tax relief based on the amount of capital contribution (on a pro-rata basis). 

“We have already consulted with the private sector in the development of the RTF and some companies have already identified roads they wish to reconstruct and are organising their funding. However, this scheme is designed such that Financial Intermediaries will be promoting Road Trust Fund projects and soliciting commitments from interested companies.” 

Under the tax relief scheme, companies will be allowed to recover 100 per cent of costs incurred on road infrastructure as a tax credit against total tax payable (including up to 10 per cent for cost of funds). 

Adeosun further noted that the tax relief would allow for cost recovery within a single year instead of three years for economically disadvantaged areas. 

When completed, the Minister said the roads would be handed over to the Federal Government who may decide to toll the roads in accordance with the National Tolling Policy or otherwise.

On the role of the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing, she hinted that the ministry would be responsible for approving the road designs, monitoring all approved Road Trust Fund Projects by managing costs and timelines as well as ensuring that equal development across Nigeria by rebalancing the Federal budget, where necessary. 

Adeosun added that all costs and contractors would be scrutinised before approval by the Bureau of Public Procurement in line with legal requirements setting up the scheme.

The minister assured that this was to ensure that project costs were not inflated and unqualified contractors do not win project bidding exercise.

Tambuwal advises FG on roads maintenance

By Newsdesk

The Sokoto State Governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has advised Federal Government on how its could maintain its roads across the nation, suggesting handing over of the infrastructure to states’ governments for effective management, as only way to go.

According to him, there is need for the federal government to handover  roads to states, because states governments are closer to public and at the level, more efficient methods of supervision are in abundant.

The governor, who passed the advice when he received the Senate Committee on Works led by its Chairman, Kabiru Gaya, at the State House in Sokoto on Tuesday, said that transferring of roads maintenance to states would go a long way in ensuring that the vast majority of major roads and highways in the country are well maintained.’

Tambuwa pledged to work with all stakeholders to ensure proper management and development of infrastructure in the state, just as he solicited for support of National Assembly to facilitate reimbursement of fund spent by the state government spent on the repairs of some federal roads.

Earlier, Gaya said that they were in the state as part of the committee’s oversight functions and lauded Tambuwal’s administration for providing basic infrastructure that would enhance the wellbeing of people in the state.

Gaya assured that his committee would facilitate the reimbursement of the funds used by the state government in developing federal roads.

He thanked the governor for his commitment towards the completion of the Sokoto-Jega-Yauri -Kontagora road, which is currently under construction.

Sokoto governor appoints committee on govt. quarters sale

By Newsdesk

The Sokoto state governor, Aminu Tambuwal, has approved the appointment of a 12-man Committee to supervise the sale of government quarters in the state.

In statement by his spokesman, Imam Imam, said that committee would be chaired by the Secretary to the State Government, Prof. Bashir Garba while the Head of Service, Buhari Bello, is a member.

Other members include the Commissioner for Lands, Housing and Survey, Bello Gwiwa, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Sulaiman Adamu and the Commissioner for Finance, Alhaji Sa’idu

The spokesman for the governor noted that the quarters, which is aimed at reducing housing deficit in the state, would be sold to deserving occupants.

Imam disclosed that the governor directed the committee to ensure the demarcation carried out is strictly enforced without any violation of standard measurement.

‘‘They should alert beneficiaries on the need to preserve the vegetation within the vicinity of their surroundings to avoid unnecessary felling of trees,” he added.

The spokesman hinted that the governor directed that payments from the sale be deposited into a designated Government Account and tellers be forwarded to the Committee for documentation.

Imam said members were also allowed to co-opt any person that is considered to be relevant to the successful implementation of their assignment.

 

NiMet targets 1,000 automated weather stations in one year

By Newsdesk

The Director-General, Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet), Prof. Sani Mashi, has disclosed that plans have been concluded to increase number of its automated weather stations to 1,000 in the next one year.

He added that the agency had only 30 automated stations until it received 47 stations recently from two international agencies as donations.

Mashi, in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday in Abuja, said that NiMet currently had less than 100 of such stations across the country.

According to him, the Trans–African Hydro-Meteorological Observatory (TAHMO) donated 37, while West African Science Service Centre on Climate Change and Adapted Land Use (WASCAL), donated 10.

“Initially we received 37 automated weather stations from TAHMO and recently we receive 10 from WASCAL. For TAHMO, it is an agency based in Netherlands, it is a profit making agency but with an interest in promoting development of meteorology in Africa. Part of its strategies is to assist African countries to get more of automated stations.

“So if you develop the culture of using automated stations they would now bring it to you so that you can buy and through that way we received the donation of 37 weather stations.

“WASCAL have also brought 10 to us to help us in improving the level at which we are collecting and analyzing meteorological data. We have received 47 new and prior to that we have only 30 throughout the whole of the country.

“We are targeting to raise the number from less than 100 to about 1,000 in the next one year and it is good to be ambitious and we believe that we can win,’’ he said.

Mashi disclosed that NiMet currently had 54 network of stations, which are different from automated stations, saying that they are still grossly inadequate.

He reiterated that the principal focus of the agency is to increase the density of observation stations across the country in line with World Meteorological Organisation guideline of one automated weather stations per 100 kilometre.