High cost of air ticket on Nigeria- South Africa route has scuttled the plans of many Nigerians resident in the country to travel home for the Christmas.
Some of them, who spoke to newsmen in Johannesburg, said they were disappointed at the high cost of fare, which in some cases went up by more than 200 per cent.
“It is unbelievable that the cost of ticket between Johannesburg and Lagos now goes for as much as 2,000 Rand which would be about N300, 000, the same ticket you could get for less than 700 Rand or less (N120.000.00),” Dotun Olubadejo a medical doctor told reporters.
He said apart from the high cost of the ticket it was also difficult to secure a seat for the return journey, which would be risky if one was to resume work immediately after the holiday.
‘’Having weighed all the options, I decided to celebrate the Christmas here, ’’ Olubadejo said.
Chidi Okereke, a businessman, also said that some of the airline operators were exploiting the desperation of intending travellers to extort money from them.
“My brother, it is tough, if you are desperate to travel to Nigeria now you have to pay extra, some airline operators are making money out this situation.
“It is either they tell you that there is no seat the day you want to go or no seat the day you want to come back. But once you offer to pay them something extra they will make seat available on the days you want. So, if you want travel, you have to play ball.
“It is mandatory for some of us to travel either for family engagement or for the feeling of being with your people during the festive period.
“Some people save money for this annually. In my own case I have to go because I will turn 40 on December 28, and I just completed my house in the village to mark my birthday,’’ Okereke said.
Paul Ajuluchukwu, said he was eager to travel with his South African wife to meet his family in Nigeria for the first time.
“I have been in this country for about 10 years now and I married a South African two years ago, and she wants to meet my people at home.
“Christmas period is the best time for me to take her and my children home because every member of my family will be home for Christmas and that will provide her the opportunity to know about my culture.
“But the price I’m paying is too much, all my savings for the year is going into this, due to high cost of tickets. The airfare for the four of us including the children is about N800, 000. 00.
‘’What do I do, I had promised my family that we will all celebrate Christmas in Nigeria,’’ Ajuluchwu said.
An officer at the Nigerian Consulate in Johannesburg, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they received more than 1,000 applications for visas and other travel-related documents between October and December.
“We have been working round the clock since October trying to make sure that Nigerians or non Nigerians willing to travel during the Christmas period are not denied the opportunity.
“Some Nigerians coming to the Consulate are here for either loss of their passports or renewals. We ensure that we attend to those of them with genuine requests,” he said.
Meanwhile, business and commercial activities in Johannesburg and Pretoria are paralysed because of the Christmas celebrations as all the shops and offices were closed except a few restaurants that remained open for business.
Some of the residents of Johannesburg who spoke to our source said that Christmas was very important to South Africans.
“They don’t joke with Christmas in South Africa. It is a big thing here, the whole of the city is almost empty as you can see for yourself. They have all gone home. People have been leaving Johannesburg for their villages about two weeks before Christmas,’’ Alfred Luke a resident of Johannesburg said.
Reports say that there has also been an increase in the number of road accidents following mass movement of people going to celebrate Christmas in their villages.
According to the Department of Transport more than 800 lives had been lost as a result of road accidents since the beginning of December.
Lawmakers Vow To Resolve Rivers Port, BUA Terminal Crisis
Chairman, House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours, Hon. Datti Garaba Muhammad, says the committee will intervene in the lingering court case between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Rivers Port Complex and the BUA terminal operators.
The chairman said the committee’s intervention would save the situation and improve business activities in the complex.
Hon. Muhammad spoke to newsmen in Port Harcourt while on an oversight function to the NPA, Rivers Port Complex, last Tuesday.
Accompanied by other members, Muhammad said:“We are here to hear the challenges, we want them to furnish us with details of the agreement, we want to see the concession agreement between NPA and BUA terminal”.
He said the committee was ready to bring peace between both parties so as to improve on the revenue accrued to the government.
Muhammad disclosed that both parties had approached the Federal High Court and Court of Arbitration in London over the issue.
He said as a committee, it is their responsibility to oversee both the NPA and the terminal operators doing business in the port complex.
Speaking earlier, the Port Manager, Rivers Port Complex, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, had told the committee that NPA had decommissioned berth 8, which collapsed some months ago.
Berth 8 is being operated by BUA terminal operators.
The manager appealed to the committee to intervene in the lingering issue as it is affecting its revenue.
He said the collapse of the berth and the legal tussle between NPA and the operator were greatly affecting maritime activities in the port.
The manager said Rivers Port Complex is one of the ports with the highest numbers of private jetties, explaining that the port has over 36 private jetties across the state.
AfCFTA: MAN Urges Stakeholders To Address Vital Issues
The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has called on stakeholders of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) to address vital issues during negotiations to ensure that the overall goal is achieved by the continent.
MAN President, Mr Mansur Ahmed made the call yesterday at the opening ceremony of a two-day African Continental Free Trade Area National Forum, in Lagos.
The event is themed, “Effective Implementation for Industrialisation and Inclusive Economic Development in Nigeria.’
Ahmed said the key issues included technical and political challenges that must be resolved.
According to him, it is important that Nigeria benefits and ensures she meets the targeted seven per cent economic growth rate expected to take about 100 million people out of poverty.
“President Buhari is committed to lifting 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years; how can we ensure that the AfCFTA leads us towards that journey?,” he said.
Ahmed said the critical dimensions that must be addressed during conversations concerning the AfCFTA should include policies and regulations, rules and conduct of the players.
“The way we merge the processes, the agreements, regulations, institutions and how these work together to ensure that the game is being played in accordance with the rules and expectations.
“The issues need to be defined in a way that we see the complexities; technical and political, to ensure clarity.
“All these must be formulated in a way that all stakeholders understand their roles and obligations and therefore play according to the rules,’’the MAN president said.
Ahmed said that all negotiators were not of the same capacity and inclination, which would require harmonisation on a regional level to resolve issues such as market offer and collaboration.
He urged stakeholders to view the negotiations with a sense of collaboration and not allow any player deemed as too powerful to dominate.
“We must look at the interest of the group as a whole and the interest of the region, and what provides the best long term and sustainable interest of the region.
“There must be a strong commitment by our governments, various institutions and private sector groups to look beyond the norms and look at the goal for the region and continent,’’he said.
Oil Firm Commissions Projects In Host Communities
An indigenous oil company operating Oil Mining Lease (OML) 18 in Rivers State, Eroton Exploration and Production Company Limited, has put smiles on the faces of its host communities with projects estimated at hundreds of millions of Naira.
Projects commissioned recently in Minama, Ifoko, Sangama, Ido and Abonnema towns, include ultra-modern town halls, civic centres and an integrated agro-farm industry that have mopped up hundreds of youths from the unemployment market in the area.
Permanent Secretary in the State Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr. Felix Odungweru, who was the Special Guest of Honour commended the communities for the peaceful disposition and cooperation during the execution of the projects and assured that the Government of Chief Nyesom Wike would ensure that multi-national companies operating in the state develop their host communities.
Speaking to newsmen at Sangama in Asari Toru Local Government Area – shortly after commissioning the ultra-modern civic centre, the Cluster Development Board Chairman, Deacon Chrstian Sekibo, thanked the communities for nominating upright members of their communities to the membership of the board who had worked relentlessly to ensure the success of the various projects commissioned.
He promised to provide toilets for Minama Community in Asari-Toru LGA, in response to the people’s demand for toilets in the community.
Deacon Sekibo debunked the insinuation that youth restiveness prevents multi-national companies from developing their host communities, pointing out that the board received the best of cooperation from the communities youth.
“We received the best cooperation from youth of these communities. Their cooperation is an indication these youth in our communities were hungry for development. We could see it in their eyes, actions and attitudes,” he said.
Also speaking to newsmen at Ifoko Town in Asari-Toru LGA, after the commissioning of an ultra-modern town hall, consultant to the board, Dr Godwin MInimah of Godifems Consults Limited, said the interest of the host communities was paramount to Eroton E & P.
The second day of the programme witnessed the commissioning of the integrated agro-farm in Ido Community in Asari-Toru LGA with offices and staff quarters for essential staff.
In his welcome address, Deacon Sekibo said, “upon payment of the 2015/2016 project funds by the joint ventures partners- NNPC/Eroton E&P, the DAA3 board agreed to invest it in an income yielding project and accordingly settled for an agro business. Hence, the integrated agro farm project.
“The farm has poultry with an installed capacity for 15,000 birds; fishery with capacity for 20,000 catfish fingerlings; snailery with capacity for 8,000 snails and piggery with capacity for 144 piglets and pigs.”
Commissioning of the Ido Integrated Agro Farm and the Abonnema civic centre were withnessed by the Permanent Secretary in the state Ministry of Chieftaincy and Community Affairs, Mr Felix Odungweru, representatives of Eroton company, community chiefs and elders, among others.
By: Donatus Ebi
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