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Dawn Of Competitive Transport In Rivers

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A new era of what could be described as “Competitive Transport System” has unfolded in the history of transport operation in Rivers State, and in Port Harcourt environs in particular. This is the desire of average commuter in the state. In the past, the transport system in the state could be said to be very undeveloped, having the features of hooliganism, gangstarism with the “winner takes all” syndrome in the system. It was a period of near monopoly due largely to the operational style of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), where no other group outside the NURTW could survive in the system, and if they must survive, it must be by violence, clash and flex of muscles physically among themselves and with the law enforcement agents. Transport fare was relatively unstable especially within the town service operation ( intra-city bus service) Mini buses dominated the entire transport and every attempt to checkmate obnoxious increase in fare was met with stiff opposition by members of the transport union. It is not surprising that any attempt made by any group to appear as an independent group will face serious attacks from the transport cabals that held the system to ransom. The scenario then gave birth to other emerging groups who had links with either the government (the federal or state) or the Labour Organisation to make their existence strong in order to enable them withstand the threat of transport mafias in the state. The coming on board of the Labour Mass Transit (LMT), the Rivers Mass Transit Scheme, and the Port Harcourt City Transport Scheme were fallouts of the efforts to launch themselves into the mainstream transport scheme in Rivers State. Other transport bodies that followed suit were the Rivers Transport and Investment Cooperative Union Limited (RTICUL) and the Nigerain Legion Mass Transit Scheme. Their coming on board brought hope to the general commuter public and other self commissioned drivers who were seeking for other alternative organisation in the transport system to guarantee freedom from the near-monopoly known in the system. The new entrants into the transport system operated as franchise schemes, with lots of promises and hope of freedom for its members, where a lot of self-commissioned drivers were registered for protection, as it were. Hopes were dashed, when these operators could not accomplish promises made to members, as the system turned out to be a source of environment for the operators. This scenario nevertheless plugged back the system into confusion again, as any emerging group could be taken very serious because of the antecedents. But since the inception of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi government in Rivers brought, hope and relevance have been rekindled in the transport system, as real investment for the development of the transport system evolved in the state. Governor Amaechi on January 29, 2008 organised a transport summit where egg heads in the transport sector both within and outside Rivers State gathered to brainstorm on the way forward and for the development of the transport system in the state. At the summit, transport and related issues were discussed, and resolutions reached, which informed the basis for government transport policy in the state with the Skye Bank playing active role at the summit. Decisions reached at the summit began to pay-off when the Skye Bank as a private financial institution in partnership with the state government rolled out the Port Harcourt City Bus Service Scheme (PHCBS); a scheme where multiple luxurious buses were used to service the Port Harcourt metropolis and its environs transport wise. This effort of The Skye Bank’ efforts in partnership with the state government impacted positively on the system, particularly in the area of control of transport fare along the Aba Road axis which was its first point of call in operations. This also gave rise to relatively organised transport system in the state as tickets were issued and the same fare charged both at the peak and off-peak in commuters rush hours. At least there was no reported case of cut in distance of operations, and the most impressive aspect is that large number of commuters and passengers were moved from one point to another and buses were readily available, with designated bus stops remarkably built. Another remarkable appearance was that of the Monier Haulage, that partnered with the Skye Bank to provide readily available and affordable transportation. With the appearance of the Monier Haualge, PHCBS launched its operations within the Mile III- Rumuokoro and Choba axis, with multiple luxurious buses in its fleet. Before the advents of the transport firm operators along UNIPORT-Rumuokoro axis, as well as that of Mile III, the fare charged by other private transporters were out rageous. But competition set in when Monier haulage started charging moderate fare against what others in Union have garged up to charge. A fare charge of N100 from Choba to Rumoukoro has now been forced down to N50 by private mini buses drivers, while PHCBS takes only N40 both do Mile III and Choba. Ideally, the major transport corridors in Port Harcourt metropolis are the Aba Road, and the Ikwerre Road axis, and this is where much passenger traffic is experienced. Next is the Rumuokoro-Choba and the Igwuruta axis, and on record, the PHCBS has taken over operations along the routes giving rise to competitive transportation. Already, many commuters that ply the routes have made the PHCBS as their number one choice because their operations are well organised, easily available, no report of hike in fare at any time of the day, and of course with low transport fare. This scenario has forced other mini bus operators to compete for passengers with lower fare charged in most cases. Interestingly, many drivers no longer position their vehicles for loading at the park but are always seen outside the motor park to compete with the PHCBS operators at a reduced fare. The reason is that the number of passengers that enter the motor park has drastically been reduced, since PHCBS positioned themselves outside the park to scout for passengers. This has affected the revenue base of most transport operators. The Secretary of NURTW, Rumuokoro branch, Mr. Ikechukwu Orlu, agreed that the operations of PHCBS has brought competition to the system, and that the daily revenue to the union has reduced drastically. This prompted the reason for members to load outside according to him. It is clear that this competitive scenario has reduced the burden on commuters on the road, and this of course will chart the course of advancement of transport system in the state, and the credit will be given to the initiators of the present administration. Corlins Walter

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CBN Opens N500 Grants Portal For Graduates, Undergraduates

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To reduce the level of suffering associated with unemployment in the country, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has developed grants of N500,000.00 for graduates and students.
A statement from the apex bank, made available to The Tide, said qualified persons have been directed to visit cbnties.com.ng portal for the CBN N500k grants registration.
This, according to the statement, is under the Tertiary Institution Entrepreneurship Scheme (TIES), in partnership with Nigerian Polytechnics and Universities to exploit the potential of graduate entrepreneurs in Nigeria.
CBN said the aim of TIES is to increase access to finance for Nigerian polytechnic and university graduates and graduates with innovative business and technological ideas.
The apex bank added that it is also to address the trend of white-collar job seekers and focus on job creation.
The statement quoted the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, as saying that the scheme is designed to create a “paradigm shift from a ‘white-collar’ job search culture to an entrepreneurial culture to economic growth and job creation between undergraduates and graduates.
“As for the grant, CBN will allocate N500 million among the top five third best delivery organizations.
“The top five polytechnics and universities in Nigeria with the best entrepreneurial trends/ideas will be awarded first place: N150 million second place N120 million third place N80 million fourth place N80 million and fifth place. Location – N50 m illion”, it stated.
As part of the scheme, the CBN has announced that it will form a private and public sector expert organization (BoE) for two-year regional and national entrepreneurship competitions to assess the entrepreneurial and technological innovations offered by Nigerian polytechnics and universities.
BoE will also recommend high-potential projects and the variable impact on the award of the grant.
Projects funded under the scheme will be monitored by independent monitors set up jointly by CBN and MFIs.

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Economic Growth, Determining Factor For Policies In 2023  – Stockbrokers

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Chairman of Research and Technology at the Chartered Institute of Stockbrokers (CIS), Mr. Akeem Oyewale, has said that economic growth and development should be the determining factor in policies ahead of 2023.
Oyewale, who said this recently at the institute’s Annual National Economic Review and Outlook 2022 webinar  in Lagos, urged policy makers to act in a spirit of justice and tolerance to avoid acts that could lead to violence in the run-up to the 2023.
Speaking on the topic: “Global Dynamics Shaping Nigeria‘s Economic Future”, Oyewale listed factors such as the process leading up to the 2023 general elections, the response to Omicron, and the effects of COVID-19, as what would also determine the growth of the nation’s economic development.
He used the fora to urge the Federal Government to intensify its engagement with Nigeria’s capital market to better smoothly finance the 2022 budget deficit without increasing borrowing.
Oyewale also directed the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to fully consider the effects on the capital market when making monetary and fiscal policies.
According to him, the philosophy of building an economy led by the private sector enshrined in the National Development Plan must be strictly adhered to.
On the need for new listings, Oyewale said Nigeria National Petroleum Company’s trading should continue with the public listing of its shares on the stock market.
This, he explained, would give Nigerians the opportunity to co-own one of the country’s commanding heights.
“The CBN and banks should grant trading facilities to securities trading firms in the country to maintain optimism in the capital market”, he said.
Speaking further, he urged pension funds and other institutional investors to increase their investment in the stock market to create much-needed stability and encourage new investment.
Earlier, President of the CIS Council, Mr Olatunde Amolegbe,  said the institute would continue with initiatives that would enhance its growth and development in 2022.
Amolegbe stated that CIS would undertake activities that would promote capital market literacy in all geopolitical zones of the country, saying that he would strengthen collaboration with international professional bodies such as CISI UK and others for the benefit of their members.
He continued that the institute was working to increase the number of Nigerian universities offering graduate and undergraduate courses in securities and investment/capital market studies.
“Our vision by 2023 is to see the Securities and Investments profession registered in the hearts of young Nigerian academics as their preferred career path and CIS as the model to be followed by other professional bodies,” he concluded.

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PenCom Completes Review Of Pension Reform Act 2014

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The regulatory body of the Nigerian Pension Industry, the National Pension Commission (PenCom) says it has deliberated on the review of the Pension Reform Act 2014 (PRA 2014).
This was contained in a statement to newsmen signed by Peter Aghahowa, Head, Corporate Communications of PenCom, who disclosed that the regulator organised the retreat on the review of PRA 2014 in Abuja between January 12 and 14.
According to Aghahowa, the retreat was aimed at identifying salient issues to be reviewed in the PRA 2014 as a prelude to advancing legislative action on the bill.
Aghahowa said it is expected that the National Assembly would subsequently organise a public hearing to provide an avenue for stakeholders to formally make input into the proposed amendments.
He also said that the PRA 2014 was enacted following a review of the initial PRA of 2004, which introduced legal and institutional frameworks of the Contributory Pension Scheme (CPS) and established PenCom to regulate and supervise all pension matters in Nigeria.
According to him, the Director-General of PenCom, Aisha Dahir-Umar, during the opening ceremony of the retreat, had informed the participants that the PRA 2014 codified one of the most important socio-economic reform initiatives of the Federal Government.
He continued that she said this has brought about a pension industry that has accumulated pension assets in excess of N13 trillion invested in various aspects of the Nigerian economy.
He quoted her as saying that “the review is a corollary to some implementation challenges encountered with certain sections of the Act not long after its enactment in July 2014.
“This was also an addition to persistent calls from stakeholders for the amendment of some sections of the Act, which resulted in several legislative initiatives through the sponsorship of Bills for amendment of the PRA 2014 by the National Assembly.
“Consequently, the Commission as the regulator of the pension industry, decided to coordinate and harmonize the various efforts in order to achieve a comprehensive and constructive exercise for the review of PRA 2014”, he concluded.

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