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SON Eyes Ultra-Modern Laboratories To Check Products

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The Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) has started the process of building an ultra modern laboratory in Lagos to facilitate the assessment of quality of products, imported or locally manufactured.

Its Director-General, Dr. Joseph Odumodu, made the pronouncement in Abuja on Sunday when he spoke with our correspondent.

He said the building of an internationally-recognised quality assessment laboratory was a major focus of the agency.

“We have also started the process of building a new ultra modern lab in Lagos, Ogba; we already have the land; everything is done, the plans are there and hopefully the contract will be awarded within the next two or three weeks.

“We already started the process of acquiring the equipment; that lab will be a multi-functional lab; it will have metrology which is about measurement. It will have micro toxin because of food and water and all that. It will also have paint and electrical and civil engineering.”

Odumodu told newsmen that SON was equally making efforts to refurbish the three existing laboratories in the country.

“We currently have Laboratories in Enugu, Lagos and Kaduna.

“The Enugu laboratory covers products in electrical engineering and all that, we also have laboratory in Lagos covering electrical engineering as well as paints, micro toxin and others.

“Then, we have a laboratory in Kaduna for textiles and leathers. Those, like I said do not meet the minimum standard; we intend to refurbish those labs.”

He noted that the international community was yet to accept SON’s assessment because its laboratories were not internationally-certified.

This, he said, was not encouraging for effective operation of the agency.

Odumodu also told our correspondent that paucity of funds and inadequate manpower were other challenges of the organisation which has only about 1000 employees in its nominal role.

Odumodu called on the Federal Government to open up avenues for the organisation to increase its staff strength for it to be able to deliver on its mandate effectively.

“Today, SON has just a 1,000 people and we are asking government that we need 2,000 people because we need to do a good job, otherwise we will only focus on the few of the activities and if you do that people will blame you on the ones you have not focused on.”

“SON has a huge mandate; our mandate covers not just products, but services.

“I am sure today for example, we all are aware that every time you make a call, you almost lose your breath because the call is dropping, but that not how calls are made in other parts of the world.

“So, we are also elaborating standards to ensure that call quality meets minimum standards, we are also looking at even ‘Tokunbo’ vehicles.”

Odumodu also said that SON would soon beam its searchlight on the importation of used vehicles to safeguard Nigerians from buying fuel guzzlers in today’s environment of withdrawal of fuel subsidy.

He added that it would introduce routine checks on petroleum products alongside the introduction of certain other standards like emission control and fuel efficiency.

“From next week, we will launch a new testing regime for petroleum products; we want to make sure that consumers get value for money in terms of quality, because a lot of products are adulterated to make profit.

“Our experience is that consumers are getting a lot less and we have a responsibility to ensure that we engage the consumer and protect them.”

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More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining

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As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’ 
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth. 
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.

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Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project   -Akawor

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The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The  PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them. 
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.

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PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations

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Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations. 
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.

Stories by Corlins Walter

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