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S’ South Trade Fair Witnesses Low Patronage

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Participants at the 1st
South-South International Trade Fair currently going on at the Isaac Boro Park, Port Harcourt say they are witnessing low level of patronage as a result of the nation-wide economic downturn.
They also attributed the situation to low level of publicity given the fair by the organisers.
Some of the participants interviewed expressed fear that they might not realize the transport fare and the registration fee paid to participate in the fair.
According to Mr Peter Njoku, a Ghana-based lady jewelries and costumes dealer, the trade fair was ill-timed coupled with the economic hardship facing not only Nigeria but also the world as a whole.
“This is not the right time for a trade fair such as this to hold.  You can see it is very dull compared to the previous ones we use to attend.  Another thing is the economic problem in the world, not only Nigeria. It would have been better in December”, he said.
Njoku said that the duration from 10th April to 5th May fixed for the trade fair was too short and called for an extension to enable participants make some sales before going back to their various destinations.
He, however, commended the serene atmosphere in Port Harcourt and called on the general public to visit the trade fair venue and buy their needs at affordable prices, saying they were cheaper than in the market.
Another participant, Mr Ifeanyi Gerald representing Hydrotec International Agency, dealers on water treatment equipment and machines, said that the trade fair was low-keyed as  participants did not turn out in a large number, attributing the low turn out to the present economic situation in the country and insecurity in the state.
“People are skeptical and this is the first time the South-South  trade fair is holding, the publicity was poor, so many people are not aware of it, but I pray that there should be improvement in the patronage if the duration is extended.
A traditional medicine dealer, Dr Olariwaju Taju who also spoke to The Tide said the organisers of the trade fair, however, did well but there is a very low patronage compared to previous ones held at the venue. He said the economic situation has really affected the fair and “that is why we are not selling as expected”.
“I believe the patronage may improve as people are coming little by little.  We want the closing date to be extended”, he stressed and called on the Federal Government to sign and release the 2016 budget for money to circulate and for business to flourish.
Another herbalist, Ahmadu Abdulahi told The Tide that governments in the South-South should show interest in the trade fair, which he observed, did not attract government attention from its commencement.

 

Shedie Okpara

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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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