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FG Builds Ekiti Airport, Nine Others

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The Federal Government has decided to build new airports in Anambra, Benue, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Ebonyi, Gombe, Yobe among other states, the Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, said.

He disclosed this on Tuesday when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Aviation for the 2021 budget defense by the Ministry of Aviation and its agencies.

He also noted that Kebbi, Osubi, Dutse airports have been taken over by the Federal Government while the Gombe State government had also written the federal authorities, asking it to take over the Gombe Airport.

“Consequent upon that roadmap, we have seen aviation grow in 2018 to become the second fastest growing sector of the economy and by 2019, it became the fastest growing sector of the economy and increased its GDP contribution.

“During your tenure from 2015 till now, we’ve seen a lot of growth in civil aviation, number of airports is increasing. So far, about seven airports have been added to the map, some of them completed, some of them under construction.

“There are airports coming up in Benue, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Lafia, Damaturu, Anambra and so forth. All of these show that civil aviation is growing during this administration.

“So, we have about 10 new airports coming up, that is almost half the number of airports we used to have in Nigeria. So we are adding 50 per cent of the number of airports,” Sirika said.

Sirika who also bemoaned decayed infrastructure at the Minna airport in Niger State, revealed plans to rehabilitate the Zuru and Ajaokuta airstrips.

Sirika explained that the executive arm of government and the National Assembly have done justice to the civil Aviation sector since 2015 when the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration came on board.

Meanwhile, in an interview with journalists after the budget defense parley, the Minister also hinted that the much-talked-about national carrier, Nigeria Air, was part of the Aviation sector roadmap, which will be delivered before 2023.

“We are on it. The transaction adviser has brought in the outline business case. It is being reviewed by ICRC. Soon after it finishes, it will go to FEC and it will be approved. We will not leave this government without having it in place,” Sirika said.

On the need to site another airport in Lokoja, Kogi State as alternate to Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja, he said, “Lokoja is an important northern town. It is a cosmopolitan town, it’s a mini Nigeria and it is extremely very important in growth and development of our country.”

“We have a lot of agricultural activities around there. There is fishery, there is perishable item production and so on. So siting an airport there is quite apt. For me, it is is something we should have done long ago for its importance,” Sirika said.

On the issues of dilapidated equipment at some airports across the country, Sirika said it is a work in progress as the airports are being attended to one after the other based on priorities.

“We have being improving these airports one airport after another. We don’t have the resources to take them all at once. We are attending to them, we look at an airport and find which is that safety item and which is that item of security that needs attention first before we now turn to other matters. Certainly we are making Ilorin one of the best airports because in the first place it was an alternate for Lagos,” Sirika revealed.

 

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NERC: Over 1m Electricity Consumers Have Received Prepaid Meters

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Labour Warns FG Against Electricity Tariff Hike 

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The Nigeria Labour Congress faulted plans to allegedly sell the Transmission Company of Nigeria, saying it will lead to an increase in electricity tariff.

The NLC President, Mr Ayuba Wabba, said this in a statement titled, “This Kite will not Fly’’ on Friday.

Wabba explained that instead of allegedly planning to sell the transmission company, FG should focus on improving the electricity supply.

He described the attempt to hand over the TCN to a few ‘privileged’ Nigerians as self-serving, obtuse, odious, morally reprehensible and criminal.

The NLC president said, “The TCN is a strategic economic asset of immense national security implications. This is because the TCN traverses all nooks and crannies of Nigeria.

“It will be wrong that our country will be deliberately exposed to an avoidable vulnerability and thus, provide an opportunity to others to restrain the Nigerian state.

“We apprehend that the planned sale of the TCN is only an attempt to further confound the people and concurrently raise electricity tariff. Unfortunately, this time around, Nigerians have had enough.

“The government cannot promise improved power supply to consumers by the planned sale of TCN. The under-the-table scheming as transparent privatisation cannot pass muster.

“It is an unsavoury narrative for our country, that even the privatised assets, which have survived the rapacity of the new owners, have been turned into unrealisable collaterals for unpayable loans.

“This constitutes a bone stuck in the throat of financial institutions and sundry creditors.”

Wabba explained that the plan would “fundamentally weaken the security of the nation and above all, deprive the people of their age-old investments in the commanding heights of the Nigerian economy”.

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FG To Consider Death Penalty For Rail Vandals – Amaechi

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The federal government says it may consider a death penalty for vandals of critical railway equipment in the country.

Rotimi Ameachi, minister of transportation, stated this on Monday, during a town hall meeting on “protecting public infrastructure” in Abuja.

On May 8, the Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) announced the arrest of two persons suspected of vandalising rail tracks along the Kaduna-Zaria rail line.

Few days later, suspected vandals were arrested for destroying and carting away tracks and rail rods laid on a section of the Warri-Itakpe rail line.

On May 16, the Kaduna state police command said it arrested five suspected rail-trail vandals at Dalle Village of Jema’a LGA and recovered two trucks loaded with locomotive railway sleepers.

After the Warri-Itakpe incident, the senate asked the federal government and security agencies to ensure that those caught vandalising rail lines across Nigeria are given maximum punishment without a fine.

”I am not quantifying the material cost; what I am quantifying is the lives that will be lost,” Ameachi said at the town hall meeting.

“Imagine that a driver of a rail track is driving and suddenly bumps into a track that has been severed, what happens? It will derail.

“If it derails, can you quantify how many passengers that would have died in the course of one man thinking he is making money?

”Some people have recommended that since these people are killing people, if an accident happens people will die, so we should go back to the National Assembly and pass a law that does not only criminalise the action but consequences should be death.”

The minister also said track vandalism is carried out in collaboration with foreign partners.

”In Jos, they arrested a Chinese company that bought those tracks from them, went to court and found them guilty and fined them N200, 000. So there must be consequences as N200,000 is not enough,” he added.

“Lagos and the Western District recorded one, North Western 31, Northern District 10, North Eastern 43, Eastern 36 and North Central 50 incidents of vandalism. Abuja-Kaduna has 13, Warri-Itakpe 2 and Lagos -Ibadan nill.”

Amaechi, who frowned at traders selling items on railway tracks, especially in Port Harcourt and Lagos, advised individuals engaging in the practice to desist or face the penalties.

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