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Ambode confirms receipt of funds spent rehabilitating Apapa-Oshodi, other FG projects

By Olawale Abdul-Fatah

Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has confirmed receiving from Federal Government sizeable percentage of funds spent by the state on rehabilitating Federal roads.

Ambode’s confirmation yesterday came barely three months after the Senate approved the executive request to refund N489 billion to 21 states, as funds spent rehabilitating federal roads within their states.

According to the Senate, Lagos State topped the 21-state list with N114.6 billion, while Akwa-Ibom State came second with N78.7 billion.

The governor, who disclosed receipt of the fund at the flag off ceremony of Apapa-Oshodi-Oworonshoki-Ojota Expressway, lamented that the state of the road demanded that total reconstruction should have been embarked upon years back.

He stressed that his administration was already in the process of utilizing the funds to deliver other ongoing projects across the state in the next few months.

Ambode. However, noted that reconstruction of the road would bring permanent relief to motorists and residents over the perennial gridlock in the axis and enhance movement within the State.

The governor said it was particularly gratifying that the project would be done using concrete, expressing optimism that it would ensure the road last over forty years.

“Whatever it is that has been taking place in this particular project has always been rehabilitation and every Nigerian should be reminded that this road has been in place for more than 40 years.

“This is the first time the government at the centre is embarking on reconstruction, that means we are going to excavate everything all the way from Apapa, Oshodi to Oworonshoki and Ojota Expressway and actually reconstruct it, using concrete instead of asphalt because Lagos is below sea level, if you use asphalt, within seven to eight years, it would wash away because we are under water.

“So the concrete template is being used to give us a long lasting solution to this Apapa gridlock and this road will last for more than 40 years and we believe strongly that the PPP platform that has been given to this project to allow the private sector invest their money in it being driven by Alhaji Dangote is the best solution that we can use to develop public infrastructure right now and we must commend the Minister for that,” the Governor added.

Preempting what would happen after construction works commence, he appealed for understanding, saying that though the commencement of the project might bring some inconvenience, the end result would be a permanent solution to the gridlock that had bedeviled the area over the years.

He assured that the State Government on its part would deploy more traffic and enforcement officers to ensure free flow of traffic in the course of the construction.

“The future of development and infrastructure actually lies in the present administration and the future of the prosperity of this country lies in the hands of President Buhari and we make no mistake about it that it is in our own interest that we continue to support the present government of APC at the centre and also at the State for continuity and greater deliverables of infrastructure, goods and services,” Ambode said.

Loan board records 30,000 government workers as loaners, house owners

By NewsDesk,

The Federal Government Staff Housing Loans Board (FGSHLB) Executive Secretary,  Dr Hannatu Fika, has disclosed that no fewer than 30,000 workers were helped by the board to access loans that led to owning houses.

Fika, who spoke on achievement of the board yesterday in Abuja, said that public servants were the engine room of good governance, adding that one way the government could encourage workers was to provide them with shelters.

She claimed that provision of shelter were reason for current administration used FGSHLB to enable Federal Government workers to build houses and that the board had helped over 30,000 workers access loans to own houses, and reaffirmed the commitment of the board to the welfare of Public Servants.

According to her, the good thing any government can do for its workers is to provide certain basic welfare needs so that they too can work effectively, diligently and willingly for the country.

“Until 1974 the programme was only situated in the Lagos territory but was expanded to all the states of the federation.

“So as of today, from the statistics of loans that we recently disbursed, we can proudly say that we have touched the lives of over 30,000 federal public servants, who now own their own homes through the FGLSHB revolving scheme’’, she said.

Fika raised concern that the housing deficit in the country might persist if the relevant agencies lacked the resources to operate.

“We will continue to pressurise government to make fund available for housing programmes.We have over hundreds of thousands number of civil servants that come under our purview they are so many,” she stressed.

As long as funds are not there, we have to utilise what is in the mortgage agency to be able to build these houses’’.

Fika commended efforts of the present administration in providing houses for Nigerians, especially through the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing’s projects in all the states.

“Amendment to the act establishing the board is long overdue. Let me begin by saying this is a change era, and the art of life is a constant readjustment to our surroundings. Progress is impossible without change, therefore, change is inevitable.

“The last amendment was in 1974, about 44years, without sentiment, there are provisions that are obsolete like Section 3 (1h) of Cap F.II.LFN 2004 no longer exist in service,” she said.

She disclosed that some critical areas like area of partnerships required a law for sustainability, appropriate designation of officers of the Board, offences.

According to her, to participate in partnership for the affordability and availability of housing for eligible public servants, the board signed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with both government and private organisations.

Lagos takes road construction to new level, introduces modern equipment

By NewsDesk,

The Lagos State Government has introduced a set of modern road construction equipment including three road printers and three giant wheel leaders, such could aid and make work move fast than the old methods.

However, it also commenced urban regeneration of Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Ikeja G.R.A, with the unveiling of 45 new road construction equipment and commissioning of newly interlocked road in Lekki.

As gathered, the equipment, unveiled after a public demonstration to the media and government functionaries to complete the construction of interlocked road in Joseph Hotounu Street, Lekki, were procured to upgrade the state road and make work move swift.

Other machines also repurchased by the state government, were five driving rollers, 18 hand operating rollers, one excavator, one paver, six tractors, three wheel loaders, one chip sealer, one milling machine, one hiab, one sweeper machine and one synchronous chip sealer.

The State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, stated that the new equipment were procured in line with efforts to reposition the Lagos State Public Works Corporation for the urban regeneration programme aimed at addressing environmental and infrastructural challenges in Ikoyi, Victoria Island and Ikeja G.R.A

Speaking after the unveiling on Wednesday, Ambode, who was represented by Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Rotimi Ogunleye, said that the equipment would be immediately deployed across the State for the urban renewal initiative, saying that they would go a long way in ensuring the regeneration of the entire Lagos landscape.

“We are here to commission these machines, equipment and gadgets and to state that these range of products would be deployed immediately to the urban regeneration of Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Ikeja and they are being put in place today to further upgrade the activities of the Lagos State Public Works Corporation so that from their three centres in Badagry, Ojodu and Imota, they can take care of the rest of Lagos State.

“We are at this site to see physically the demonstration of the capability and capacity of the equipment. I want to state emphatically that this development is a sign of the government’s commitment to the regeneration and renewal of the entire Lagos State landscape.

“The Public Works Corporation has three regional centres in Badagry, Ojodu and Imota of which the various machines would be deployed to the various areas. Essentially, this point is to regenerate V.I, Ikoyi and Ikeja urban centres and it is an all-inclusive developmental process,” he said.

Also speaking, Secretary to the State Government, Mr Tunji Bello said the paving stone machines and road printers were acquired to basically construct roads that would last longer considering the state of the Lagos environment being waterlogged.

“We carefully thought about it before we even embarked on it. It was planned long time ago for the equipment to be acquired and having been acquired, they will be deployed immediately for road construction.

“One of the problems we have in Lagos is road tarring because the water table in Lagos is very high and it does not allow most of our roads to last and so we needed equipment to make our roads longer and part of it was to acquire the equipment which have just been tested.

“So, now we will be using paving stones mostly and they will last longer particularly in a terrain like Lagos and that is what we have seen today,” Bello said.

While giving practical demonstration of the workings of the equipment, Special Adviser to the Governor on Public Works and Chief Executive Officer, Lagos State Public Works Corporation, Engr Temidayo Erinle said the road printer has the capacity to pave road between six and eight metres faster and reduce man-hours.

“The road printer can make road paving of 400 to 600metres square in a one-day working shift of eight hours. The road printer makes road construction faster, easier and cheaper,” Erinle said.

While revealing that the State Government was in the process of further procuring interlocking making machines, Erinle urged residents to take proper care of the road just unveiled and desist from indulging in activities that could damage it.

Responding on behalf of the residents of Joseph Hotounu Street, Lekki, Mrs Ronke Giwa thanked the State Government for fixing the road from its dilapidated state, saying the development had removed their decades of sufferings.

“Before the construction of this road, our cars were getting spoilt; we dread the rains and it had been on for decades so I like to thank Governor Ambode and the State Government for giving us this road,” she said.

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.