The military deployed more 4000 troops yesterday to rescue and deliver supplies to survivors from remote Taiwanese villages devastated by last weekend’s typhoon, but many criticized the government’s response as insufficient and too slow.
Villagers told officials who visited the worst-hit areas this week that more of their relatives could have been saved if they had moved sooner and faster.
The government said its operations have been hampered because many areas of the country were cut off when roads and bridges collapsed, though Interior Minister Liao Liao-yi said troops on foot had reached several villages Wednesday.
Until then, rescuers had relied solely on helicopters to reach the worst-hit areas, and on Thursday authorities requested larger choppers from foreign governments capable of carrying earth-moving equipment and shelters.
Some 14,000 villagers have been rescued — including 600 on Thursday — since Typhoon Morakot dumped more than 80 inches (2 meters) of rain past weekend, the island’s disaster relief center said. The storm unleashed the worst floods the island has seen in 50 years.
Another 2,000 villagers — who escaped those floods and were sheltering either in open fields or on higher ground — were still waiting to be ferried to shelters, it said. Several hundred more — no one is sure how many — remain unaccounted for and are feared lost in the mudslides.
The official death toll in Taiwan stands at 108, with 61 listed as missing. The storm also killed 22 people in the Philippines and eight in China.
The military sent 4,000 new troops on Thursday to join another 16,000 soldiers already working to save thousands of survivors stranded in several villages in the island’s south, the Defense Ministry said.
Relief officials on Thursday asked foreign governments to provide giant choppers that could carry cranes, prefabricated houses and sterilizers. Lawmakers said only the U.S. and Russia made those helicopters.
Taiwan has already received offers of financial assistance from the United States, Japan, Singapore and China.
In the southern Taiwan township of Toayuan, 500 villagers were told to run to higher ground about 30 minutes before a lake created by floodwaters and landslides burst its banks, an official said, adding that two nearby lakes were expected to burst soon.
“There would be a massive amount of water flowing down the Laonung River, and we have alerted villagers around to flee,” relief official Hsu Chin-biao said.
In the southern town of Liukuei, scores of private relief vehicles were held up along a narrow, muddy mountain road, waiting for permission to move toward the center of the heavy flooding that devastated a series of isolated villages.
Relief efforts by a number of Buddhist organizations complement the military’s work to pluck hundreds of villagers from the affected area.
But villagers complained to President Ma Ying-jeou and other leaders that the rescue operation was too slow.
“Why does the government say only useless things?” a woman anxious to learn the fate of relatives trapped in Kaochung village in the south asked. With tears filling her eyes, she told TV reporters: “I’ve been waiting for several days, yet there has not been anyone going to rescue my family.”
The mass circulation Apple Daily said Ma “failed to order the military to commit itself to relief efforts right away, and that made him an incompetent commander in chief.”
News reports said many villagers used their bare hands in the days after the mudslides to try to dig down to their buried homes in futile efforts to save their relatives.
Others sought to send messages for help.
On Wednesday, a wooden sign was seen being erected near a collapsed bridge in Hsinfa village in Kaohsiung saying “32 Buried SOS.” Rescuers rushed to the scene and tossed ropes over the river to pull several survivors to safety, according to news reports.
Construction, Real Estate Sectors Contribute N20trn To GDP – NBS
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has said economic activities in the construction and real estate sectors contributed N20trllion to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in the first three quarters of 2022.
The NBS report also showed that construction services earned N12.9trllion, while real estate contributed N7trllion to the GDP.
It further revealed that the construction sub sector contributed 9.5 per cent to nominal GDP in the third quarter of 2022, which is higher than the 9.26 per cent it contributed a year earlier and higher than the 7.95 per cent contributed in the second quarter of 2022, and also grew by 18.92 per cent in nominal terms (year-on-year) in the 2022 third quarter.
However, the sector dropped 28.75 per cent points, as compared to the rate of 47.67 per cent it recorded in the same quarter of 2021.
According to the national statistics body, real estate services in nominal terms grew by 9.13 per cent, higher by 0.50 per cent points than the growth rate reported for the same period in 2021, and lower by 3.68 per cent points compared to the preceding Quarter.
On a Quarter-on-Quarter, the sector growth rate was 16.38 per cent. The contribution to nominal GDP in Q3, 2022 stood at 4.96 per cent, relative to 5.27 per cent recorded in the third quarter of 2021 and higher than the 4.95 per cent accounted for in the second quarter of 2022.
The NBS calculates the sector’s contribution by adding up gross outputs such as a sum of fees, the value of work done, commissions receivable for the services rendered and other incomes.
It also considers intermediate consumptions such as details of the cost structure, including transportation fees, operational expenditure, minor repairs and maintenance etc.
“From the foregoing, it is clear that the contributed amount had revealed what the private sector could achieve in the nation’s GDP.
“When we talk about real estate, it is driven by private investors. This implies that for any economy to thrive, the private sector must be given a platform and a level playing ground for them to perform.
“It will be of note also that the real estate industry does not require an incubation period. Anytime you start building a house, at least 25 persons will get a job. So, if the government wants to support the economy of the country, more opportunities should be given to the private sector to thrive”, the report stated.
By: Corlins Walter
Expert Urges Domestic Airlines To Apply As Flag Carriers
Sequel to disagreement between the Federal Government and domestic airline operators over the Nigerian Carrier, which is a subject of litigation, a stakeholder in the aviation industry and Chief Executive Officer, Centurion Security Limited, Capt John Ojikutu, (rtd.) has urged domestic airlines to seek government approval to designate one or two of them as flag carriers instead of going to court over the Nigeria Air deal.
He said he had reservations about the lawsuit filed by the Airline Operators of Nigeria against the Federal Government and its foreign technical partners, and majority shareholders, saying there are so many things wrong with the FGN-ET deal.
“What I believe that the private airlines can do instead of wasting their time is to seek government approval to designate one or two of them as flag carriers on at least five Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreement routes.
“As far as I am concerned, the airline will die the same way defunct Virgin Nigeria died, and that is my displeasure over that ET partnership.
“So, it is not something that will be forced on the next administration. It is not a government policy that we must have a partnership with ET. So, I am sure the next government will not succumb to that.
“What they have now is a government airline, not a national carrier. Government just called one or two persons. In SAHCOL, two people there have 78 per cent shares, and one person in MRS, who is a foreigner, has 60 per cent. So, invariably, it is the government and one or two people as far as I am concerned”, he stated.
FAAN Boss Orders Allocation Of PH Airline Building To Airlines
Managing Director and Chief Executive of the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN), Capt. Rabiu Yadudu, has urged the Port Harcourt International Airport Manager/Regional General Manager, South-South/South East, Mr Felix Akinbinu, to ensure that airlines are immediately allocated the new airline building without delay.
He noted that the new airline building project is one of the important projects that have been executed at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, and would want the immediate use of the building.
The Managing Director, who gave the directive during the commissioning of the airline building, described the Port Harcourt airport as one of the busiest in Nigeria.
Represented by the Director, Airport Operations, Capt. Mukhtar Muye, Akinbinu noted that there are about 27 airports in the country, and described the airline building as a good edifice.
“This project is very important to us, and I would urge the Regional Manager to ensure that airlines are immediately allocated the building without delay.
“We are very happy to commission this airline building to decongest the terminal building they currently occupy. We know that this is a good edifice that will attract other airlines, includi international airlines, to Port Harcourt Airport”, he said.
Earlier in his address, Akinbinu said the commissioning of the building will go a long way in the provision of office space for airlines and other stakeholders in the airport.
“This building will also help to decongest the domestic terminal building of people who troop in and out to purchase tickets, do sundry enquiries, thereby ensuring effective access control into the terminal building.
“The building consists of eight suites, which are suitable for multipurpose, including banking halls and offices, a large packing space and a gate house for security.
“One of the buildings has been designated as a Magistrate Court, which will serve the airport in the quick dispensation of service”, he stated.
Highlight of the occasion was presentation of goodwill messages from stakeholders at the airport, such as the host community, the League of Aviation Correspondents.
Alsos, the new Airport Area Command of the Police, and former Police spokesperson in Rivers State, ACP Ireju Barasua, assured of adequate security at the airport, expressing delight that more projects will come to the airport.
In his vote of thanks, the Head of Corporate Affairs at the airport, Mr Kunle Akinbode, thanked all for making the programme a successful one.
The representative of the Managing Director also cut the tape to declare the building open for business.
By: Corlins Walter
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