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FG Owes Contractors Over N11trn – Minister 

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The Federal Government says it is owing contractors about N11.16 trilliion for the construction of various highways across the country and certificates of completion.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, made this disclosure while defending the proposed budget of his ministry in the 2023 Appropriation Bill.
He said the Ministry has currently awarded 1,642 highway contracts for 1,632 projects at a total sum of N10.395 trillion.
While appearing before the House of Representatives Committee on Works in Abuja on Tuesday, Fashola said,  “The main challenge to highways development in the country remains inadequate funding. As at date, the government is committed to highway contractors to the tune of about N10.4 trillion, while a total of about N765 billion are unpaid certificates for executed works.
“Secondly, the shortage of younger engineers/technical officers in the ministry as a result of embargo on employment is affecting proficient project supervision at the sites.
“It is expected that more sources of funding of highway projects be explored as well as lifting the embargo on employment of needed engineers/technical officers at middle level to enhance supervision of projects”.
Making his presentation, the Minister noted that the regime had built roads with a cumulative distance of about 8,000 kilometres out of the about 13,000 kilometres under (re)construction.
Accordiy to him, the Ministry had documented creation of 339,955 jobs across road projects, adding that, “these are the human activities behind the kilometres (of road constructed)”.
Some of the jobs, he continued, were created through lane marking covering 1,663,954 linear meters, “which was not visible on our roads before but you can now see them beginning to emerge”.
Noting that 250,583 road signs were missing on the roads as at 2015, Fasholas said the construction companies had used 1,002,960,851 litres of diesel for various projects.
“Construction companies don’t buy diesel, they buy from the market. All of these suppliers are small businesses who benefit from and are impacted by what we do”, he explained.
The Minister also explained that the use of such commodities as cement (1.6 million tonnes), reinforcements (512,00 tonnes), and  bitumen (3,371,000 tonnes) are all activities that have impacted on people beyong the services being rendered by the ongoing job by the Ministry.
“It is to be noted that as at October, 2022, the ministry had a cumulative unpaid certificates in the sum of N765.017bn for ongoing highway and bridge projects.
“Apart from the pressure of resources to pay, there is the inadequacy of annual budget provisions where N100m or N200m was provided for roads costing N20bn or more.
“In spite of all odds, 20 major highway projects have so far been completed in 2022 and are ready for commissioning. The total cost of the completed projects is in the sum of N444.322,123,808.61 and they cover a total length of 379.677km.
“Additionally, there are 59 major highways/bridges priority projects that are at advanced level, to be completed within 2022-2023, with a total contract sum of N60,961,187,130.71”, the Minister said.
He continued that the Ministry had initiated an intensive bridge maintenance programme to ensure serviceability of the major assets, adding that bridges were critical structures that guaranteed connectivity across the federal road network.

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Maritime

Trade Modernisation: Customs’ CG Tours Huawei, Port In China

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The Comptroller-General  of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi, recently led his team to the Headquarters of Huawei, a famous information and communications technology company in Shenzhen, China, where he discussed opportunities embedded in Nigeria Customs Service Trade Modernisation Project.
This was disclosed in a press release made available to our correspondent in Lagos by the National Public Relations Officer (NPRO) of the Service, CSC Maidawa yesterday.
According to the release, the CGC’s visit to Huawei Headquarters was part of his official visit to the People’s Republic of China for the 6th Global AEO Conference that took place in the city of Shenzhen between Wednesday, 8th May, Friday, 10 May, 2024.
Stating the purpose of his visit to the company’s office on behalf of his team, CGC Adeniyi said, “We are also delighted to associate with the Global Leader Technology Services through the Team of Trade Modernisation.”
It would be recalled that the Service had, during the Huawei Connect 2023 held in Shanghai in October, 2023, expressed readiness to deploy some of the company’s latest products for use in its trade modernisation project.
The CGC, who urged Huawei’s company leadership to sustain their digitalisation services to NCS, also sought their support to collaborate with the Nigeria Customs Service to maintain their transformative journey with the company.
On his part, Xujing Xu, the Huawei Company’s Vice President of Smart Transportation, welcomed the delegation of the NCS led by Adeniyi and the Management Team of the Trade Modernisation Project (TMP) Limited, led by Chairman Saleh Ahmadu.
He expressed confidence that their collaboration will benefit all parties involved, noting that “the foundational work for this transformation is already underway”.
The TMP Chairman, Saleh Ahmadu, during his address, said Huawei is living up to expectations to deliver its mandate under the auspices of Trade Modernisation Project Limited.
He appreciated the support accorded to him by the CGC and his management team towards the success of the NCS Trade Modernisation Project.
In his bid to upscale the level of NCS modernisation, the Comptroller-General of Customs, alongside members of the Trade Modernisation Project led by Chairman Saleh Ahmadu, visited Lantan Port to witness the level of automation and technological solutions provided by Huawei and other tech partners.

In a related development, a training programme on Trends and Digital Solutions for Customs officials and the TMP team was organised by Huawei the same day, which focused on equipping officials with the necessary skills to navigate the digital landscape of modern trade.

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Business

NERC Declares Most Discos Insolvent 

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Most of the lectricity Distribution Companies (DisCos) in Nigeria have been said to be technically insolvent and unable to not only pay for invoices sent to them from the electricity market, but also invest in network expansion projects.
Speaking at the 8th Africa Energy Market Place 2024 in Abuja, Chairman of the Nigerian Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), Engr. Sanusi Garba, said the poor financial state of the DisCos makes it difficult for them to raise the needed capital to invest.
Garba noted that the challenges facing the sector were a culmination of past inactions and missteps by those saddled with the responsibilities of managing the sector, both at policy and operational levels.
According to him, “Today when you look at distribution companies, they are clearly and technically insolvent, and you also want them to raise capital in terms of debt or equity. It’s a herculean task.
“I also want to mention that implementing the power sector reform requires powerful political will to implement decisions that impact the wider public”.
On his part, the Minister of Power, Chief Adebayo Adelabu, said the government was working to get the distribution companies solvent and effective by unbundling their operations along state boundaries.
Adelabu insisted that the areas covered by the current DisCos are too large for them to deliver effective services to consumers.

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Business

PH To Get Two CNG Refuelling Stations, Vehicle Conversion Parks

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Rivers State Capital, Port Harcourt, is set to have two Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) refuelling stations as well as two Vehicle Conversion Parks.
The Chief Executive Officer, FEMADEC Energy Limited, Fola Akinola, revealed this at the South-South/South-East Stakeholders Engagement Meeting on Presidential Initiative on CNG held in Port Harcourt, Weekend
Akinola, who stated that modalities have been concluded on the project, stressed the need for investment by stakeholders as a way of driving home the initiative of the Federal Government to ease the gas plight of its citizens.
Akinola said, “CNG is an old technology. We want to tell you that you have the opportunity to convert your vehicle from fuel to CNG. The stations will be launched in Port Harcourt and we are launching a refueling unit alongside. Rivers State is going to have a micro refuelling unit at Stadium Road and in GRA.
“For those that want to invest in CNG refuelling units, it is available. Even those who have fuel station facilities can as well invest in this”.
Earlier, the Programme Director, Presidential Initiative on Compressed Natural Gas, Michael Oluwagbemi, noted that Rivers State was the heart of oil and gas Region, insisting that the initiative was for the good of the nation as a whole.
“The initiative of the government is critical to our national development and to the well-being of the people. Rivers State is the heart of the oil and gas region”, he stated.
Oluwagbemi, however, expressed regret that over the last five to six decades, these resources have continued to waste.
“Nigeria is the second largest waste of oil and gas. We exploit it and waste it, then continue to suffer poverty. The President has set us on natural gas features and set up the nation on the path of growth. The use of gas ensures we have energy savings. Mind you, the price of Natural gas is controlled by the government.
“What the President is asking is to do more with the blessings God has given us. If we are able to move three million vehicles in the next three years, we are going to end the era of environmental degradation”, he said.
The Programme Director further said, “We will stop subsidising poverty, importing unemployment and exporting jobs.

By: Lady Godknows Ogbulu

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