The Government of Cross River State has commenced the sales of hand sanitizers to commercial drivers in the state as a measure to curb Coronavirus (COVID-19).
In a statement circulated by Governor Ben Ayade’s aide, Emmanuel Ulayi in Calabar, the government said any commercial driver who fails to comply with the directive to buy and use the sanitizer will face severe consequences.
The statement also directed that the purchase of the hand sanitizers should be made at the office of the Traffic Management and Regulatory Agency (formerly Department of Public Transport, DOPT) statewide.
“In line with the directive of His Excellency, Governor Ben Ayade, of Cross River, staff of AyadeCare have been stationed at the Traffic Management and Regulatory Agency for the purchase of hand sanitizers by commercial drivers and members of the public.
“The Director General of the Agency, Comrade Godwin Nyiam, who stated this in his office in Calabar, also revealed that the Agency staff will embark on serious enforcement from Wednesday, March 25, 2020 as part of strict policy to ensure compliance.
“To this end, all commercial vehicles and drivers who have not yet purchase their hand sanitizer are required to go to the Agency office in Calabar to purchase their hand sanitizers, “In the same vein, all Keke (tricycle) operators are now required to carry only one passenger at a time and all the commercial drivers must not carry more than two passengers at a time.
COVID-19: NERC Suspends Electricity Tariff Hike
Following pressures being mounted by the public, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), yesterday, announced the suspension of electricity tariff hike expected to commence on April 1, 2020 to next three months, June 30, 2020.
NERC, in an Order on the transition to cost reflective tariffs in the Nigerian Electricity Supply Industry (NESI) tagged /198/2020, signed by the NERC Chairman, Prof. James Momoh, and the NERC Commissioner for Legal, Licencing and Compliance, Dafe Akpeneye, yesterday, said it was due to global effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and its impact on the average Nigerian.
“There shall be no increase in tariffs of end-use customers on April 1, 2020. This Order shall take effect from April 1, 2020 and shall cease to have effect on the issuance of a new Order by the NERC.”
The commission, which had planned the hike from today, said it is aware of the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the global economy and its impact on the average Nigerian.
It noted that the previous Order on the December, 2019 minor review of the Multi Year Tariff Order (MYTO) 2015 and the Minimum Remittance Order (MRO) for 2020 “shall remain in force until June 30, 2020 when a new MRO shall be issued.”
NERC said the 11 DISCs submitted their Performance Improvement Plans (PIPs) and also filed applications for an extraordinary tariff review with public hearings held from February 25 to March 9 for the DISCOs.
There was also a hearing on providing tariff for ancillary services for the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) on the national grid.
NERC said the stakeholders’ views show consumers are willing to pay appropriate rates for services rendered by the DisCos but must be of quality and with adequate metering.
It also said the COVID-19 pandemic has obstructed importation of components for local meter assembly to supply consumers under the Meter Assets Provider (MAP) Regulation, and that it was discussing with MAP and DISCOs to review the expectations.
NERC then gave the DISCOs 21 days from today, to submit new PIPs on how they can recover their costs prudently with marginal profit by June 30, 2021 especially on how customers will be guaranteed improved services.
The DISCOs were also directed to provide smart meters for their 11 kilovolts (kV) and 33kV feeders by June 30, 2020 so they can send real time data to the Commission.
Earlier, the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had condemned and totally rejected any plan to inflict further pains on Nigerians by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC).
The NLC President, Comrade Ayuba Wabba, in a statement, yesterday, said that such action would only add more pains to Nigerians as the country tackles the dreaded Coronavirus disease.
Wabba bemoaned that while other countries are battling the COVID-19 pandemic and expanding social welfare and putting in place economic stimulus, including distribution of free foods, free healthcare services, sanitary kits, utility bills reduction, debt moratorium, and cash support to insulate their citizens from the harsh realities of the fight against the novel Coronavirus, “our own case in Nigeria cannot be different,” he added.
He further noted that “the concerns in the public domain are not helped by reports that the NERC has not issued any reversal order to Electricity Distribution Companies (DISCOs) on the planned tariff increase in power utility.
“The leaders of our affiliate unions were unanimous in rejecting the planned increase in electricity tariff during our recent interactive session with NERC in Kano,” he added.
He stressed that “any increase in electricity tariff would only convey a deafening expression of insensitivity to the plight of the Nigerian people who are currently dealing with the social scare, income hemorrhage, economic squeeze and mortal dread of COVID-19.”
He noted that this is the right time to show Nigerians that their lives matters.
He added that “If there is any time to show that the very essence of government is the security and welfare of citizens, it is now.”
While he noted that Nigerian workers find tremendous succour in the altruism shared by President Muhammadu Buhari in his address, he said, “we urge the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission not to embark on any fruitless adventure that would cast aspersion on the good intentions of Mr. President.”
FG Denies Alleged Non-Screening Of Americans At Lagos Airport
The Federal Government has said that it would allow approved international flights into the Murtala Muhammed International Airport in Lagos and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, adding that the approved flights would be required to submit manifest of passengers to port health officials prior to arrival in the country.
The Federal Government, therefore, described as absolute falsehood reports that 26 Americans arrived at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos, last Monday without screening for Coronavirus.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, while reacting to the claim, admonished the media to be circumspect of what they publish, and desist from dishing out fake news aimed at frustrating efforts of government and those in the frontline of fighting COVID-19 pandemic.
He said contrary to the report, the Americans were screened by the Port Health Authority and the Immigration while the crews did not disembark from the aircraft.
Mohammed said: “I am aware of the history of the 26 passengers and I have placed a call to the head of Port Health Services who denied the report.
“We have problem with the crude oil production in the Bonga field, so, they made an application for the expatriates to come into the country.
“They need to come and carry out some emergency works on the Bonga field, and they arrived yesterday.
“They met with the Port Health Authority and immigration that screened them, and we have the records to show that they were screened.”
The minister explained that the rule on border closure is that if any aircraft must come to the country on emergency, it must come in with two crews for inbound and outbound flights.
“Any flight approved to come into the country now must come with two crews so that there will be no way any of the crew members will get down and interact.
“But if they must come down, they must go into 14 days quarantine.
“It is wrong for the media to be publishing fake news that will frustrate the efforts of not just government but the Frontline people in this fight which are the health workers, the immigration and others.
“They are the ones that are at the highest risk of infection. When they make those sacrifices, to save the country it is wrong for a newspaper to report with a banner headline that they did not do their jobs when in actual fact, they did.
“Another implication of this which the newspaper did not know is that they have presented to the entire world as if Nigeria is not taking this fight seriously,” he added.
PDP Wants Eminent Nigerians’ Group To Handle Palliatives
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), yesterday, called on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately constitute an “Eminent Nigerians Group” to manage donations from the private sector and palliatives from the Federal Government aimed at curtailing the spread of the Coronavirus.
This is even as the party said the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 chaired by the Vice President, Prof Yemi Odinbajo, should immediately hands off the management of palliatives so as to eliminate corruption as well as political and bureaucratic bottlenecks that would impede effective administration of the social panaceas to vulnerable Nigerians.
In a statement issued by spokesman, Kola Ologbondiyan, yesterday, the PDP also asked the President Buhari-led government to halt plans by the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), to hike electricity tariff, saying Nigerians “are going through excruciating pains and cannot carry the burden of a further increase in costs.”
The statement read: “It is a time we must bring in eminent Nigerians from the private sector to assist in developing and implementing operable target-specific strategies to reach the vulnerable Nigerians across all informal sectors of our economy.
“The party expresses concerns that the Federal Government has so far failed to reach vulnerable Nigerians in the informal sector, including cab driver, ‘Keke’ and ‘Okada’ operators, artisans, labourers, market women, traders, food sellers, fruit vendors, farmers and dealers of perishable goods, motor mechanics, among others, whose survival directly depends on daily income in the markets, shops, and streets, which has been crippled by lockdowns occasioned by the COVID-19.
“Our party is deeply worried about the cries of hungry children whose parents can no longer go out to provide for their families at this critical time.
“The PDP, therefore, holds that the situation at hand requires an urgent involvement of all Nigerians irrespective of political, ethnic or religious persuasion.
“The party calls for special interventions for farmers as well as Nigerians involved in the production, distribution, and marketing of perishable consumer items by undertaking emergency bulk purchase, storage initiatives as well as waivers on loans so as to check waste and buoy production.
“We also urge for strategic intervention for distressed Nigerians such as cab drivers, ‘Keke’ operators, traders and other small-scale entrepreneurs, who took bank loans for their enterprises but have been grounded by COVID-19 pandemic.
“The PDP further demands that the federal government should adopt strategies to cut interest rates on such loans by microfinance and commercial banks in the country.
“In the same vein, our party pleads with landlords, particularly those of residential apartments, to bear with their low-income group tenants, whose businesses have been crippled at this critical time.
“Moreover, the PDP restates its call on President Buhari to reduce the cost of fuel from N125 to the appropriate pump price of between N80 and N90 per litre to mitigate the suffering of Nigerians during this time.
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