Kwara Government To Build Split Underpass To Ease Traffic

Kwara, UnderpassThe Kwara State Executive Council has approved the construction of a three-phased diamond split underpass at the Gerin Alimi roundabout in Ilorin, the state capital as part of efforts to ease traffic congestion in the area.

Briefing journalists after the State Executive Council meeting, the Commissioner for Works and Transport, Aro Yahaya, said that the project is expected to be completed in 18 months and will be the third in the country.

The Geri Alimi area is the first contact for anyone visiting Ilorin from other states and usually gets busy especially in the morning and evening thereby causing traffic holdups for hours.

Aro Yahaya, while briefing journalists on the need for the project, explained that when completed, it would not only ease traffic but add to the aesthetic of the area as it is expected to be an engineering masterpiece and architectural beauty.

He added that the first phase of the project will cost N2.9 billion, and the funding would be from the 10 billion Naira the state government is sourcing from the bond market.

The design of the underpass will be the third in the country as they only exist in Mabushi in Abuja and Maryland in Lagos.

In a graphical demonstration of how the project would look like when completed, the contractor handling the project and Managing Director of Bal Engineering Limited, Bashir Lawal, explained that Close Circuit Television Camera (CCTV) and a security post would be provided to provide adequate security in and around the interchange.

Lawal noted that the project would provide aesthetic and architectural beauty to the area and ease human and vehicular movements.

Also speaking at the briefing, Commissioner for Information and Communications, Mahmoud Ajeigbe, said that the council has approved the contributory pension scheme for civil servants who joined the civil service from 1987 to date while those employed before the date would remain under the current scheme.

Mahmoud explained that the approval was sequel to the realization that the revenue base of the state could no longer sustain the old pension scheme.

Terror Feeds on Fear, Panic And Publicity – Fashola

fashola sunrise ABJThe Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, has again said that the job of securing the lives and property of citizens becomes easier when the people become more interested in their own safety.

Governor Fashola was in the Abuja studios of Channels Television as a guest on the Wednesday edition of the breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily.

Speaking about the security of Lagos amidst the state of insecurity in the entire country, Fashola maintained a usual view that ensuring security in the state was dependent on the level of awareness of the citizens.

“We’ve been taking precautions for the past four years”, Fashola said, as regards protecting the state from insurgents, but warned that misinformation of the public and spreading of panic messages through access to new media tools was not helping matters.

Citing several habits that people have to change in order to protect themselves from being easy target for unscrupulous persons, “Terror feeds on fear and panic and also publicity”, he said.

There were recent reports of an explosion in Apapa area of Lagos and Governor Fashola said that it would be irresponsible to go ahead and assume that it was an attack on the state as it was not.

Speaking further, the Governor called on all residents to register for the State Residents Registration programme, as it was one of the major tools to help the government in providing security for its citizens. He said, “We must know everybody, nobody can afford to be anonymous again.

“I can’t guarantee that somebody entrusted to that data will not abuse it but it does not obviate the need for the data, it doesn’t obviate the necessity to keep it.

“The Lagos State Residents Registration Law is a model that I will commend because we did a lot of research, we looked at what was obtainable across the continent where there were models like this, we looked at South Africa, India, we looked at some of the states in the United States where this kind of practise was obtainable.

“Of course every law is as good as what the people who sit down to debate its policy content do at the time they do so. Challenges that emerge in the next 10 years will necessitate that the next set of people should look at that law again and say ‘is this law behind today’ and modify as we go along.”

The installation of CCTV in Lagos State was also discussed and Fashola stated that the surveillance cameras have been effective but their effectiveness has been hampered because of their dependence on power, an amenity that remained inconsistent in the country.

He, however, also noted that despite the high standard of security intelligence in the United States, their systems have been breached several times by terrorists, an indication that there was more to ensuring security that the installation of devices.

He emphasized the identification of its citizens and keeping a database of all persons the state is expected to provide for and protect as the foundation to creating a safe state.

Apapa/Oshodi Expressway Menace

The need to protect citizens also necessitated a conversation about the harrowing traffic experiences of Lagos residents especially in the Apapa axis of the state. Governor Fashola said:

“I must apologise that citizens are going through what is clearly an avoidable experience in terms of commuting, but without any doubt at all, the pain comes from two sets of actions.

“First, it comes from the way we are managing the distribution of petroleum products, it comes secondly from the way we are managing port activities; these are two activities that the state has no control of, these are Federal Government responsibilities.

“All of the petrol that is available in Nigeria today is pumped from the tank farms in Apapa, that’s a fact. So if you stop any activity there the whole country will not have fuel.

“So apart from the inefficiencies that characterise that system, the cost of commuting and having fuel in your generator is also the harrowing pain that citizens go through today and we can be much more efficient than that.”

He decried the manner in which tankers have taken over the roads, stating that there was need to review the way fuel is being supplied in Nigeria, as it was unacceptable to have little or no space left for vehicular movement.

On his recommendations, he said; “You can’t depend on tank farms to supply 90% of a nation’s need. Even if the tank farm was out in the desert, it’s still not a sustainable system; there are pumping systems across the world to do this.

“How many nations still truck all of their fuel on the road? Why can’t it go by rail? There’s a rail system that the Europeans left when they were managing our oil industry and our ports, the tracks are there. When I was Governor-elect, I checked and it was going to require only about 250million dollars, at that time, to put the rail track back into operation from Lagos all the way to Kaduna.”

He insisted that the manner in which the fuel business and port business in the state had been managed has been a major factor adversely affecting other businesses.

Pension Scheme Initiative

Governor Fashola had been in Abuja, the Federal capital territory attending the World Pension Summit Africa and he also spoke about the progress made by Lagos State in this regard.

The Governor said that his state had been operating two pension schemes; the old Defined Benefit Scheme which, based the 2004 law, the state has been trying move away from and the new Contributory Pension Scheme which the state passed into law in March 2007 just before he was elected as Governor.

This is because there were still retirees in some parastatals running on the old scheme and the state decided not to enforce migration but rather let it fade out gradually “until the last member of that scheme.”

He disclosed that the State Government’s 7.5% contribution on the new pension scheme for its employers had risen to about 61billion Naira with the employees also contributing their 7.5% and with the “wonderful job” done by the Lagos State Pension Commission, about 25billion Naira has been remitted to retirees in the state.

He stated that the compliance level in Lagos State has been “extremely high” despite the initial and current challenges but the Defined Benefit Scheme has been the most challenging with the state having to fund it from the budget.

He reaffirmed that pensioners do not queue for their benefits anymore in Lagos State as the state has involved its Local Governments in the disbursement of the funds and also introduced technology to ensure convenience.

 

Over N500 million PHCN pension trapped in London – Report

A panel set up to investigate the electricity workers’ pension contributions in the power sector has submitted its report to the minister of state for power.

PHCN employees protest over pension

Submitting the report on Monday in Abuja, the Chairman of the investigative panel and a former Auditor-General of the Federation, Joseph Ajiboye said that Power Holding Company of Nigeria’s (PHCN) workers’ pensions was never a contributory scheme and was never funded by a budgetary allocation but rather through an internal arrangement in the company.

“The problem with the PHCN was that they didn’t have sufficient fund to be able to meet the requirements of that closed system, that is the major problem,” he said.

Another major finding of the report according to Mr Ajiboye, was the existence of a mini—estate constructed to service the electricity workers’ retirement fund which was sold off without remissions to the fund, thereby starving the fund and making it impossible to pay off retired workers.

The eight-man-panel also reported that over two million pounds (approximately N500 million) which ought to have gone to the retirement fund is presently stuck in a London account and that if recovered could help solve the ongoing impasse between the electricity workers and the federal government.

The former Auditor-General said he believes that “government in its wisdom will find a solution to this problem.”

The investigative panel’s report has long been awaited. The panel was given 30 working days to probe the PHCN pension scheme especially the details of the N300 billion allegedly accumulated in the NEPA retirement fund which the former minister of power, Barth Nnaji had insisted was only N3 billion.

The Minister of State for Power, Nuhu Wya, while receiving the report from the panel said “We hope this report will aid us to find a solution the lingering labour issue. And you know the only labour issue that is outstanding now is that of pension.”

The PHCN staff are demanding a 25 percent benefit on their pensions different from the 15 percent severance package offered by the federal government on grounds that this was a set standard for pensions and gratuity payoff peculiar to the PHCN pensions scheme under the retirement fund.