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Dawn Of Competitive Transport In Rivers

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A new era of what could be described as “Competitive Transport System” has unfolded in the history of transport operation in Rivers State, and in Port Harcourt environs in particular. This is the desire of average commuter in the state.

In the past, the transport system in the state could be said to be very undeveloped, having the features of hooliganism, gangstarism with the “winner takes all” syndrome in the system.

It was a period of near monopoly due largely to the operational style of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW), where no other group outside the NURTW could survive in the system, and if they must survive, it must be by violence, clash and flex of muscles physically among themselves and with the law enforcement agents.

Transport fare was relatively unstable especially within the town service operation ( intra-city bus service)  Mini buses dominated the entire transport and every attempt to checkmate obnoxious increase in fare was met with stiff opposition by members of the transport union.

It is not surprising that any attempt made by any group to appear as an independent group will face serious attacks from the transport cabals that held the system to ransom.

The scenario then gave birth to other emerging groups who had links with either the government (the federal or state) or the Labour Organisation to make their existence strong in order to enable them withstand the threat of transport mafias in the state.

The coming on board of the Labour Mass Transit (LMT), the Rivers Mass Transit Scheme, and the Port Harcourt City Transport Scheme were fallouts of the efforts to launch themselves into the mainstream transport scheme in Rivers State.

Other transport bodies that followed suit were the Rivers Transport and Investment Cooperative Union Limited (RTICUL) and the Nigerain Legion Mass Transit Scheme. Their coming on board brought hope to the general commuter public and other self commissioned drivers who were seeking for other alternative organisation in the transport system to guarantee freedom from the near-monopoly known in the system.

The new entrants into the transport system operated as franchise schemes, with lots of promises and hope of freedom for its members, where a lot of self-commissioned drivers were registered for protection, as it were.

Hopes were dashed, when these operators could not accomplish promises made to members, as the system turned out to be a source of environment for the operators.

This scenario nevertheless plugged back the system into confusion again, as any emerging group could be taken very serious because of the antecedents.

But since the inception of Governor Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi government in Rivers brought, hope and relevance have been rekindled in the transport system, as real investment for the development of the transport system evolved in the state.

Governor Amaechi on January 29, 2008 organised a transport summit where egg heads in the transport sector both within and outside Rivers State gathered to brainstorm on the way forward and for the development of the transport system in the state.

At the summit, transport and related issues were discussed, and resolutions reached, which informed the basis for government transport policy in the state with the Skye Bank playing active role at the summit.

Decisions reached at the summit began to pay-off when the Skye Bank as a private financial institution in partnership with the state government rolled out the Port Harcourt City Bus Service Scheme (PHCBS); a scheme where multiple luxurious buses were used to service the Port Harcourt metropolis and its environs transport wise.

This effort of The Skye Bank’ efforts in partnership with the state government impacted positively on the system, particularly in the area of control  of transport fare along the Aba Road axis which was its first point of call in operations.

This also gave rise to relatively organised transport system in the state as tickets were issued and the same fare charged both at the peak and off-peak in commuters rush hours.

At least there was no reported case of cut in distance of operations, and the most impressive aspect is that large number of commuters and passengers were moved from one point to another and buses were readily available, with designated bus stops remarkably built.

Another remarkable appearance was that of the Monier Haulage, that partnered with the Skye Bank to provide readily available and affordable transportation.

With the appearance of the Monier Haualge, PHCBS launched its operations within the Mile III- Rumuokoro and Choba axis, with multiple luxurious buses in its fleet.

Before the advents of the transport firm operators along UNIPORT-Rumuokoro axis, as well as that of Mile III, the fare charged by other private transporters were out rageous. But competition set in when Monier haulage started charging moderate fare against what others in Union have garged up to charge.

A fare charge of N100 from Choba to Rumoukoro has now been forced down to N50 by private mini buses drivers, while PHCBS takes only N40 both do Mile III and Choba.

Ideally, the major transport corridors in Port Harcourt metropolis are the Aba Road, and the Ikwerre Road axis, and this is where much passenger traffic is experienced. Next is the Rumuokoro-Choba and the Igwuruta axis, and on record, the PHCBS has taken over operations along the routes giving rise to competitive transportation.

Already, many commuters that ply the routes have made the PHCBS as their number one choice because their operations are well organised, easily available, no report of hike in fare at any time of the day, and of course with low transport fare.

This scenario has forced other mini bus operators to compete for passengers with lower fare charged in most cases.

Interestingly, many drivers no longer position their vehicles for loading at the park but are always seen outside the motor park to compete with the PHCBS operators at a reduced fare.

The reason is that the number of passengers that enter the motor park has drastically been reduced, since PHCBS positioned themselves outside the park to scout for passengers. This has affected the revenue base of most transport operators.

The Secretary of NURTW, Rumuokoro branch, Mr. Ikechukwu Orlu, agreed that the operations of PHCBS has brought competition to the system, and that the daily revenue to the union has reduced drastically. This prompted the reason for members to load outside according to him.

It is clear that this competitive scenario has reduced the burden  on commuters on the road, and this of course will chart the course of advancement of transport system in the state, and the credit will be given to the initiators of the present administration.

 

Corlins Walter

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CBN Assures On Depositors’ Fund Safety 

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Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has reassured the banking public of the safety of their deposits and the banking system’s resilience.
CBN’s Acting Director of  Corporate Communications Department, Mrs Hakama Sidi-Ali, gave the assurance in a statement on  Monday in Abuja.
The statement, a response to concerns raised about the stability of some Nigerian banks in the wake of Heritage Bank Plc’s license revocation, faulted claims that the CBN was considering revoking the operating licences of Fidelity, Polaris, Wema, and Unity Banks.
It also clarified that a circular issued by the Bank on January 10, 2024, notifying the public about the dissolution of the Boards of Union, Keystone, and Polaris Banks, was currently being circulated as though it was freshly issued.
According to the Director, Heritage Bank’s case was isolated.
“Allegations of further revocation of licences prior to the completion of CBN’s recapitalisation exercise are mere fabrications aimed at creating panic within the system”, Sidi-Ali said.
She stated that bank customers, particularly those of Heritage Bank, need not worry about the safety of their deposits, adding that the Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation (NDIC) had commenced payment to the bank’s insured depositors.
The spokesperson urged members of the public to continue their regular banking activities without fear, dismissing any false reports regarding the health of specific Deposit Money Banks.
“The CBN, with its robust regulatory framework, is proactively ensuring the stability of Nigeria’s financial system, thereby guaranteeing the safety of depositors’ funds in all Nigerian financial institutions”, she said.
Sidi-Ali reiterated the assurances of the CBN Governor, Olayemi Cardoso, that the recapitalisation of banks in Nigeria was intended to bolster the banking system and safeguard the sector against risks.

She urged all stakeholders to cooperate in ensuring the success of the process, which she said would be for the overall growth of the Nigerian economy.

“Without prejudice to the ongoing recapitalisation process, I want to restate that the Nigerian banking industry remains resilient. Key financial soundness indicators remain within current regulatory thresholds.

“Customers are, therefore, encouraged to proceed with their transactions as usual, as the CBN is committed to ensuring the safety of the banking system”, she said

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NERC Approves New Tariff Hike For Port Harcourt DisCo

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In spire of calls that the recently hiked “Band A” tariff be reversed, the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC) has approved a new tariff hike for the Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Company (DisCo).
NERC permitted the PHED to raise tariffs for Band A customers categorised as Maximum Demand 2 Special (A – MD2 Special).
MD customers are customers that have a load of 45kVA and above. They also operate and maintain their dedicated transformers.
From N206 per kilowatt-hour, this category of customers within the Port Harcourt franchise will now pay N225/KWh.
In a regulatory instrument tagged June 2024 Supplementary Order to the Multi-Year Tariff Order – 2024 (“June 2024 Supplementary Order”) for Port Harcourt Electricity Distribution Plc, the NERC said the tariff approval was under the Tariff Review Application by PHED.
“Further to Section 23 of the MYTO-2024, this Supplementary Order seeks to reflect the changes in the pass-through indices outside the control of licensees including inflation rates, naira/dollar exchange rate, available generation capacity and gas price for the determination of Cost-Reflective Tariffs”, NERC stated.
The electricity regilator emphasised the basis for the review, saying the Naira to the US Dollar exchange rate of N1,469.06 per dollar has been adopted for June to December 2024. It said this has been determined by adding a 1 per cent transaction cost to the average foreign exchange rate of N1,454.52 during the period May 1 to 24, 2024 as obtained from the website of the Central Bank of Nigeria.
It also added that the Nigerian inflation rate of 33.69 per cent for April 2024 as published by the National Bureau of Statistics was applied to revise the Nigerian inflation rate projection for 2024.
“Under Section 116 of the Electricity Act and extant regulations, the commission has considered and approved for PHED, the tariffs (in Table 2) effective 1st June 2024. The approved tariffs shall remain in force subject to monthly adjustments of pass-through indices including inflation rates, naira/dollar exchange rates and gas-to-power prices.
“In line with the policy direction of the Federal Government of Nigeria on electricity subsidy, the allowed tariffs for Bands B – E customer categories shall remain frozen at the rates payable since December 2022 subject to further policy direction by the government.
“With this policy, the estimated subsidy benefit for customers under the PHED franchise in 2024 is approximately N11.49bn monthly”, the NERC stated.
In April, the NERC announced a new tariff for customers in Band A, from N68/KWh to N225/KWh.
It later reduced the tariff to N206.80/KWh based on the rebound of the naira.
Meanwhile, organised labour and manufacturers have kicked against the Band A tariff.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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AMJON Partners School To Train Journalists On Maritime Operations 

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The Association of Maritime journalists of Nigeria (AMJON) has gone into a mutually beneficial collaboration with School of Eloquence to strengthen the capacity and reporting skills of Maritime journalists.
This was disclosed in a statement signed by the Chairman, AMJON Organising Committee, Mr. Segun Oladipupo and made available to our correspondent in Lagos on Monday.
According to the statement, “This year’s edition, tagged “Special Edition”, is a collaborative effort between the foremost Public Speaking training School,  School of Eloquence and AMJON”.
Oladipupo said the training is slated to hold on Friday at the School of Eloquence premises at Osborne Road, Ikoyi.
“Experts from the Nigeria Customs Service, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) and School of Eloquence have been lined up to train journalists on the rudiments of their own operations”, according to the statement.
Speaking, the President of AMJON, Paul Ogbuokiri, said journalism required constant training to be in tune with evolving trends in the industry.
According to him, journalism has taken a leap from what it used to be and journalists need to equip themselves with modern journalism tools that will help them to catch up with the trends.
“We need constant training and restraining to be relevant in this age of journalism. If we fail to update ourselves, we will soon fizzle out,
“This partnership with the School of Eloquence is a right step in the right direction. It will no doubt, energise our knowledge of reportage”, he stated.
On his part, the Chairman, Organising Committee, Segun Oladipupo, said the event would afford members the opportunity to take their reporting to enviable height
He, therefore, enjoined participants to seize the opportunity to learn new trends in journalism and also learn the business side of the job.
He thanked the School of Eloquence for providing a platform for Nigerian journalists to take a flight in their daily assignment.

Nkpemenyie Mcdominic, Lagos

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