Thousands Stranded As Commercial Drivers Strike In Ghana

A file picture of the Ghanaian Flag
The Ghanaian Flag


Thousands of Ghanaian commuters, students and workers were stranded at bus stations across the country on Monday after commercial transport drivers went on strike over high fuel costs.

Drivers union representatives said the strike would be indefinite until the government scrapped some taxes on fuel to help reduce costs at the pumps.

The West Africa nation has seven fuel taxes, which is currently priced at $1.13 a litre nationwide.

Stranded passengers were hopping into the backs of pick-up trucks, travelling with private drivers, or even walking to get to their destinations.

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“It’s complete hell. I’ve been at this bus stop with my two children since 6 am and it’s now 8 am and I’m still here,” said Vivian Tamatey, a 35-year-old office secretary in the capital Accra.

“I have no option than to call my boss and let him know that I can’t come to work today or I’ll be terribly late. How do I even send my kids to school?”

Transport was also affected in Ho in the Volta Region, Koforidua in the Eastern Region, and Tamale in the Northern Region, according to an AFP correspondent who spoke with commuters there.

Drivers later said they would suspend the strike as the presidency had invited them to talks over the protest, though it was not clear whether they would reach a deal by Monday.

Drivers’ representatives had urged Ghanaians to show solidarity and said they had no choice but to strike to force the government to act.

“We know the pains this strike will cause Ghanaians but it’s a necessary evil,” the head of communication of the striking drivers, Abass Imoro, told AFP on Monday.

Commercial transport in Ghana, popularly known as “tro tros” — minibus shared taxis — are operated by private drivers and represented by the Coalition of Private Road Transport Commercial Operators Union comprising more than nine driver associations.

“I’ve done approximately four 4 kilometres of walk already and I can’t even bear with the sweat,” said Baba Musah, a trader in the capital’s Central Business District.

“I’m even wondering when I’ll get to work and how to even return home.”


FG Approves N10bn ‘Survival Funds’ For Transport Operators

A file photo of the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki,


The Federal Government has approved the sum of N10 billion as survival funds for transport workers and operators in the country.

This was disclosed by the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, who received a delegation of the National Executive Committee and Trustees of the Public Transport Owners of Nigeria Association (PTONA).

According to a statement on Wednesday, the minister informed the delegation led by their President, Isaac Uhunwagho, that the funds would help cushion the sufferings encountered by road transport workers and operators as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

She explained that the money was domiciled with the Federal Ministry of Trade, Industry and Investment, adding that the Ministry of Transportation was already working on the modalities for its disbursement.

While noting that 90 per cent of Nigerians travel by road, Saraki stated that the government would soon initiate a master plan that would reform the sector and solicited the buy-in of all stakeholders.

A file photo of commercial buses in Lagos.


On the challenges operators face from state governments and other stakeholders, she gave the assurance that she would discuss the issues through the National Transport Commissioners’ Forum.

The minister also disclosed that she was in talks with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on the concessionning of some routes aimed at increasing government revenue.

She, therefore, urged members of the association to avoid duplicity and formalise their structures in an organised manner for better engagements with the ministry and other relevant agencies.

In his response, Uhunwagho said their visit was in respect of the challenges faced by the body and sought COVID-19 financial palliatives for members to prevent their businesses from folding up.

He lamented that PTONA members felt the impact of the lockdown the most as their branded buses could not operate due to the ban on interstate travel.

The PTONA president decried that general motor parks did not comply with the ban and as a result, they enjoyed black market transportation boom.

He added that despite PTONA members being the major investors in the transportation sector, their businesses were the prime target for state and local government authorities who impose taxes, levies, and other ridiculous conditions.

Uber Sees $1.8bn Loss As Pandemic Stalls Revenue


Uber on Thursday reported a $1.8 billion loss in the recently ended quarter as the pandemic caused its shared-ride business revenue to plunge.

Overall revenues skidded 29 percent from a year ago to $2.2 billion, as gains from delivery failed to offset a massive 75 percent drop in its ride-hailing bookings, San Francisco-based Uber said.

Uber shares dropped more than four percent in after-market trades that followed release of the earnings figures.

“Our team continues to move at Uber speed to respond to the pandemic’s impact on our communities and on our business, leading our industry forward with new products and safety technologies, and harnessing the strong tailwinds driving exceptional growth in delivery,” chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi said.

“We are fortunate to have both a global footprint and such a natural hedge across our two core segments: as some people stay closer to home, more people are ordering from Uber Eats than ever before.”

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Uber’s global ride-hailing operations have been hit hard during the coronavirus lockdowns, with bookings down 75 percent and revenue declining 67 percent.

The delivery operations under Uber Eats meanwhile saw revenues more than double to $1.2 billion — and overtake rideshare revenue in the three months ending in June.

Uber has made other changes in recent months, sealing a deal for the Postmates delivery service in the US while divesting its Jump scooter and bike-sharing unit.

It has also quit some makers including Austria, Czech Republic, Egypt, Honduras, India, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Peru, Romania, United Arab Emirates, Ukraine, and Uruguay.

Chief financial officer Nelson Chai said the company was on track to achieve profitability, on an adjusted basis excluding debt and other costs, by the end of 2021.


Two Killed, More Than 30 Wounded In Lima Gas Tanker Blast



At least two people were killed and dozens injured, some severely, when a gas tanker exploded and ignited a major fire in Lima on Thursday, emergency services said.

The driver of the truck was killed in the blast, and a nine-year-old girl died of cardiac arrest in hospital after succumbing to severe burns, health officials said.

Seven other children were among 33 people hospitalized, some with severe burns, health official Ricardo Sopfi told RPP radio.

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Air force helicopters were used to transport the injured to hospitals.

The gas tanker exploded after the truck went over a speed bump as it approached a busy intersection in the Peruvian capital’s Villa El Salvador district.

The resulting blaze engulfed 14 nearby homes, fire department chief Alfonso Panizo told state television.

Firefighters brought the blaze under control after three hours. Others sifted through razed houses in search of survivors or pets.

Uber Turns To India, Africa And Middle East As Losses Mount

Angelo Merendino / AFP


The head of Uber said Tuesday that the global ride services firm was counting on India, Africa and the Middle East for future growth amid investor fears about mounting losses and a slump in its share price.

Uber has exited several markets — including China and Southeast Asia — to pare back losses, and is in fierce competition with rival Ola in India, a market estimated to be worth $7 billion a year.

Since its public offering in May, Uber’s share price has tumbled some 30 percent, while the company lost $5.2 billion in the second quarter.

“India is a fundamental part of Uber’s growth going forward… it’s a top 10 market for us,” chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi told reporters in New Delhi.

“The profitability characteristics of our business here are improving. If I look at Uber’s growth over the next 10 years, it’s… going to be defined by India, Africa and the Middle East, more so than the developed markets.”

Khosrowshahi brushed aside fears the stock price could fall further after the expiration of a lock-up period in November, after which company employees and early investors can sell their shares.

The chief executive, who was in Delhi to unveil an updated version of Uber’s app linking the Delhi Metro public transport system with its services, said he was focused on long-term prospects.

The revamped app is part of a global campaign to attract more users.

While India is one of Uber’s biggest markets — with 12 percent of its global rides — the firm still lags behind Ola in the nation of over 1.3 billion people.

It has also struggled to keep up with the two largest online food-delivery players Zomato and Swiggy.

The company laid off some staff in India as part of global job cuts as it tries to map a route to profitability.

But chief product officer Manik Gupta told AFP that Uber would double its technology team to 1,000 as proof of its commitment to Asia’s third-largest economy.

“We definitely want to show our commitment to India,” Gupta said.

Uber’s third-quarter results will be released in two weeks.

Death Toll From Capsized Cameroon Ferry Rises To 17


The death toll from a Cameroon ferry that capsized this week has risen to 17 after more bodies were found, state radio said Wednesday, though the total number of victims was still unknown.

Fourteen more bodies were recovered from the Bakassi Peninsula on Tuesday, two days after the ferry sunk off southwestern Cameroon, Cameroon Radio Television reported.

A source with local authorities confirmed the details to AFP.

State media had initially reported that three victims — of Cameroonian, Nigerian and French nationality — were found and more than 100 people were rescued when the ship went down overnight Sunday to Monday.

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The Austrheim, a trading vessel converted into a passenger ship was supposed to carry 75 people, but it was “overloaded,” according to a statement from the defence ministry.

So far, 111 survivors have been rescued, according to state radio and a local leader. Searches continued on Wednesday for survivors or bodies.

The ship left Sunday from Calabar, Nigeria, and was due to dock at Tiko in southwest Cameroon but hit a sandbar before capsizing, according to the ministry.

17 Chinese, Ukrainian Seamen Kidnapped Off Cameroon



Nine Chinese and eight Ukrainian seamen were abducted in attacks on two merchant ships off Cameroon, in the latest act of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea, sources said Friday.

The attacks took place on Thursday in Cameroonian waters off the port of Douala, located at the apex of a gulf that has become a hotspot of seaborne crime.

A Douala official told AFP on Friday that a total of 17 people had been abducted, including “nine Chinese civilian sailors” from one of the ships.

A Cameroonian security official, likewise speaking on condition of anonymity, confirmed the account.

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The Cameroonian navy and the country’s port service had reported the kidnappings on Thursday but had been unable to give the number or nationality of those taken.

A navy source said the kidnappers “are probably Nigerian pirates,” adding that Cameroon’s security forces had launched a search for them.

The Gulf of Guinea, whose coastline stretches in a huge arc from Liberia to Gabon, is notorious for piracy as well as oil theft, illegal fishing and human and drugs trafficking.

In Malaysia, Noel Choong, who heads the International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a watchdog agency, said the 17 seamen were seized from two ships that were attacked within hours of each other while they were anchored off Douala.

Choong said one of the ships was a multipurpose German-owned ship that flew the flag of Antigua and Barbuda.

“Eight crew were kidnapped from the ship, consisting of a total of 12 Asian and European sailors,” he said.

The other vessel was a Liberian-flagged bulk carrier managed in Greece with a Greek owner.

“There were 21 crew on board. All were Asians. Nine crew were taken,” Choong told AFP.

“(The) IMB has issued a warning to all ships at Douala. We ask all ships to take additional precaution.”

Russia’s foreign ministry said in a statement quoted by news agencies that three of the kidnapped sailors were Russian nationals. Many Ukrainians also hold Russian citizenship.

Piracy epicentre

In recent years, the seas off West Africa have become “the world’s worst for pirate attacks,” according to the IMB.

Attacks doubled in the Gulf of Guinea in 2018 compared to the previous year — the bulk of them due to piracy, it said.

Of the 75 seafarers taken hostage in the first half of this year, 62 were abducted in the gulf, IMB figures showed.

The Gulf of Guinea now accounts for 73 percent of kidnappings and 92 percent of hostage-takings at sea worldwide, particularly off the coast of Nigeria, Guinea, Togo, Benin and Cameroon.

The 17 countries bordering the Gulf of Guinea and adjacent coastline have limited surveillance and maritime defence capabilities.

They have been trying for several years to bolster their means of intervention and to put in place closer collaboration.

Ten Turkish sailors were freed last week after being kidnapped by “pirates” off Nigeria last month. Pirates normally seize sailors hoping to be paid ransom.

Uber Loses Licence To Operate In London

A man poses holding a smartphone showing the App for ride-sharing cab service Uber in London on September 22, 2017.  Photo: Ben FATHERS / AFP

London transport authorities announced Friday they would not renew Uber’s licence to operate in the city when it expires on September 30 over public safety concerns, although it has three weeks to appeal.

Transport for London said the conduct of the ride-hailing app, which has around 25,000 drivers operating in the British capital, had raised concerns.

“TfL has concluded that Uber London Limited is not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence,” it said in a statement.

It said Uber’s “approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications”.

These include its approach to reporting serious criminal offences, and to obtaining criminal record checks for drivers.

Under licensing laws, Uber has 21 days to appeal the decision, and can continue to operate until the process has been exhausted.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said he fully supported the decision.

“I want London to be at the forefront of innovation and new technology and to be a natural home for exciting new companies that help Londoners by providing a better and more affordable service,” he said.

“However, all companies in London must play by the rules and adhere to the high standards we expect — particularly when it comes to the safety of customers.

“Providing an innovative service must not be at the expense of customer safety and security.”


Passengers Applaud Timely Rehabilitation Of Abuja Airport

Passengers Applaud Timely Rehabilitation Of Abuja AirportDomestic flights have resumed operations into the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, following the re-opening of the runway to traffic.

Passengers aboard a domestic flight expressed delight at being able to fly directly into the capital city, and applauded the timely rehabilitation of the facility.

They, however, appealed to the Federal Government to urgently consider the construction of a second runway for the airport, in addition to regular maintenance of the newly rehabilitated one.

Speaking to Channels Television, the Minister of Agriculture, Audu Ogbeh, lauded the prompt decision of the government to rehabilitate the airport.

“We must thank the agencies: The Ministries of Transport, Aviation, Works, and other Nigerians who gave the support. The greatest thing is we thank God that we didn’t wait for a disaster to happen in Abuja before we took that decision,” he said.

The spokesman for the All Progressives Congress, Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, also said: “The last couple of weeks have been quite challenging for some of us who fly quite frequently, the logistics of having to go to Kaduna and all that; but I think it has been managed quite effectively”.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, said the Abuja Airport had been certified to accommodate international and local flights, ahead of the date scheduled for its re-opening, April 19.

The Ethiopian Airline Airbus 8350 was the first major airline to land at the airport.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, President Muhammadu Buhari lauded the efforts of key agencies on the successful completion of work on the runway of the airport.

He also thanked foreign airlines for their cooperation with the Nigerian Government during the period of the closure of the airport.

President Buhari Commends Re-opening Of Abuja Airport

President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday commended the re-opening of the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, 24 hours ahead of the deadline.

In a statement issued by his spokesman, the President lauded the efforts of the contractor, security agencies, Kaduna State Government, as well as the Ministries of Transport, Power, Works and Housing, on the successful completion of work on the runway of the airport.

He said that he looked forward to such display of inter-agency cooperation and efficiency in the operation of the entire Federal Government machinery.

President Buhari also thanked foreign airlines for their cooperation with the Nigerian Government during the period of the closure of the airport.

Ahead of the date scheduled for the re-opening, April 19, the Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Hadi Sirika, said the Abuja Airport has been certified to accommodate international and local flights.

The Minister said this when he landed at the airport at about 11.15am on board a Caverton helicopter from Kaduna State.

The Ethiopian Airline Airbus 8350 was the first major airline to land at the airport.

European Union To Expand Cooperation With Nigeria

European Union, Ogbonnaya Onu, Science and technology
Nigeria’s Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu

The European Union has announced plans to expand its partnership with Nigeria beyond the traditional field of aids and donations to mutually beneficial cooperation.

The head of the European Union delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS Ambassador, Michel Arrion, told the Minister of Science and Technology, Ogbonnaya Onu, that the EU is looking at new areas and sectors that will ensure relevant contribution to the partnership between the regional block and Nigeria.

The new areas include energy, transport, science and technology and climate change.

The Minister of Science and Technology welcomed the expanded ties and requested that the extended cooperation include training and research, to help Nigeria move away from a resource based and commodities dependent economy.

The Minister also hosted the Portuguese Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Teresa Ribeiro and her delegation whose interest also lies within the expansion of economic and cultural ties with Nigeria, as well as on a convention that will eliminate double taxation in the area of business and investment between both countries.

The visit to the Minster was the second time Ambassador Arrion would officially visit the ministry and the Minister considered it a welcome development especially as Nigeria diversifies its economy.

Nigerian Government To Begin E-Procurement In Six Ministries

e-Procurement in ministriesThe Federal Government of Nigeria has announced plans to start the pilot phase of electronic procurement (E-Procurement) systems in six ministries.

The government says a total of 48 billion Naira is expected to be saved from the new initiative.

The Acting Director General of the Bureau for Public Procurement, Mr Ahmed Abdu, announced the plan on Monday while speaking at a meeting on procurement in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital.

He explained that the savings from the e-procurement platform would represent five per cent of savings from the recurrent expenditure and three per cent on capital expenditure.

Mr Abdu said some of the ministries to start the e-procurement process are health, education, agriculture, transport, water resources, as well as that of works, power and housing.

The administration of Muhammadu Buhari has stressed that it would cut down the cost of governance to ensure that the nation’s revenue which had declined due to the drop in the price of crude oil will not affect development.

The government is looking to save funds as much as it could to cater for the over two trillion Naira deficit in the 2016 budget.