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Rail project: NPA intervenes in CCECC, port operators’ row over demolition

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Nigerian Ports Authority has intervened in the feud between APM Terminals and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC) over the demolition of some sections of the Lagos Ports Complex (LPC).

The move, it was learnt, was to ensure that the dispute does not in any way impede on port operations.

The CCECC, a firm handling the Federal Government new rail project, had last week commenced demolition of some sections at the Apapa ports to create room for the construction of the rail lines into the ports complex.

But APM Terminal viewed this as impeding on its operations.

The demolition which took place last week saw some freight forwarders protesting against the action of the CCECC, arguing that their goods which had been cleared got trapped inside the ports as a result of the action.

Head, Corporate Communication at the NPA, Adams Jatto, confirmed that efforts were on going to ensure a peaceful settlement of the feud.

He said the management of NPA under the leadership of the Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, swung into action to ensure that port operations did not suffer as a result of the ongoing standard gauge rail construction.

He said the matter was under control and that there was not cause for alarm.

“We are already talking with the rail project manager of the contractor and the terminal operators to see how we can mitigate the effects of the rail construction on port operations.

“Don’t forget that the rail project is a necessity that the nation has to implement to ensure that the ports are well connected to efficient rail services. However, we are discussing with them so that they can look at their programme and see how we can have an unhindered port operation while the rail project construction is ongoing” he said.

Operations at the Apapa container terminal, operated by APM Terminals were last week paralysed when the CCECC mobilised to site, blocking the truck exit gate and began demolition of structures inside the port terminal, thereby hampering Customs inspection, and affecting the release and exit of containers.

Importers and clearing agents complained that they  been unable to conclude their transactions as at when due while loaded trucks had been unable to exit the port terminal.

The situation has reportedly compounded the Apapa gridlock as trucks piled up on the port access road.

President of the Nigerian Importers Integrity Association (NIIA), Godwin Onyekazi, said although the government should be commended for linking the seaports to the rail network, the project should be implemented in a way that would not hamper port operation.

He said, “What we observed at the Apapa port today shows poor coordination of the rail project. The Chinese contractors handling the rail project should have coordinated with the Nigerian Ports Authority and all the terminal operators at the port to ensure that while the construction is ongoing, port operations are not hampered.

“There is a huge backlog of containers in the port as we speak. To now block the port at this time and make it impossible for containers to exit the port is counterproductive.

“This is also the peak season for importation. More goods are coming into the country and this disruption will mean that these goods will be stranded at the port.

“Consequently, importers will be made to bear the brunt of this action because their goods will be trapped inside the port and they will not be able to take them to the market in good time. Also, they will end up paying more as demurrage and storage charges. This is not good at all.”

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Fuel queues return to Abuja over price hike rumour

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Fuel queues have resurfaced in the Federal Capital Territory over speculations of an imminent increase in the pump price of petrol.

This is coming about 24 the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation had said there would be no increase in the ex-depot price of petrol in May and not until the end of negotiations with organised labour.

But reports say remours about a price hike and scarcity have led to the latest long queues that surfaced on Tuesday at petrol stations in the FCT.

Long queues of motorists waiting to buy fuel were seen at retail outlets in Wuse, Gwarimpa, Wuye and Kubwa expressway on Tuesday while other outlets were not selling the product.

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NNPC says no petrol price increase in May, subsidy continues

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The Federal Government will continue to pay fuel subsidy as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation has said it will not increase the ex-depot price of petrol in May.

Group Managing Director of the NNPC, Mele Kyari, disclosed this on Monday on the company’s social media post during a meeting he held with the National Association of Road Transport Owners/Petroleum Tanker Drivers.

Kyari had last month disclosed that the current market price of petrol had risen to N234 per litre, far above the average pump price of N163 per litre across petrol stations in the country.

Tanker drivers had on March 29 issued notice of industrial action, citing poor remuneration and other hardship as reasons for their action.

Kayri said, “We want to inform oil marketing companies that the NNPC will not increase the pump price of PMS in May. I am giving the assurance and I ask Nigerians to go about their normal businesses; we have over 20 billion litres of petrol in our custody.

“Many of you are aware of this and with the assurance with tanker drivers and NUPENG, there is no need for panic buying of the product. Petrol will be available in all the depots in the country including NNPC dispatched depot across the country, so nobody should panic in buying the product.”

Speaking on the on the strike by the PTD, the NNPC boss said the strike was associated with NARTO’s inability to increase their compensation which was not resolved last week.

He said, “We have given commitment to both NARTO and PTD that we will resolve the issue within a week and come back to the table to have a total closure on the issue.

“We also have a robust engagement with our oil marketing partners in respect of increase in the volume product that is check in the Nigerian market. “We have agreed to work jointly with all the security agencies to contain any possible infractions seen in our borders. We will work as a team to curtail this fraudulent practice with the help of the security agencies.”

He explained that the meeting also discussed issues on payment by Petroleum Equalisation Fund (PEF) to oil marketing companies.

He said that all stakeholders agreed in making the PMS available to marketers.

Speaking at the end of the meeting, NARTO President, Alhaji Yusuf Othman, commended the NNPC for the intervention and assured that within the next seven days, things will normalise in the adjustment of allowances of PTD.

He said, “NARTO requested that they bring three persons so that we discuss the issues but that would not have been possible without this intervention. “We hope that within the next seven days things will normalize and I want to assure Nigerians that we are committed to it.”

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UBA posts 26.8% profit, double-digit growth on income lines

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The United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc says its profit after tax (PAT) increased by 26.8 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) for the period ended March 31, 2021.

The bank’s PAT jumped to N23.2 billion in Q1 2021 from N30.1 billion in the same period in 2020.

According to a statement from the bank, it also recorded a double-digit growth across most of its major income lines in period under review.

The tier-1 bank said between January and March, it recorded N40.6 billion, representing a 24 percent year-on-year growth in profit before tax compared with N32.7 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2020.

It stated, “Interestingly, UBA again sustained its strong profitability recording an annualised 20.5% Return on Average Equity (RoAE) compared to 19.9% in the same period of 2020.

“Driven by a year-on-year growth in interest income, UBA Group recorded another impressive 5.5% percent year-on-year growth in Gross Earnings to close at N155.4 billion for the three month period ending March 2021, compared to N147.2 billion recorded in the first three months of last year 2020.

“The bank’s total assets also rose by 2.5 per cent to N7.9 trillion in the period under review, compared to N7.7 trillion recorded at the end of the 2020 financial year whilst shareholders’ funds grew to N762.4 billion up by 5.3% from N724.1 billion as at FY 2020.”

Group Managing Director of UBA, Kennedy Uzoka, said the result reflects the bank’s capacity to grow earnings in a highly uncertain macroeconomic environment.

He expressed satisfaction with the bank’s performance, adding that its current capital and liquidity ratio have positioned the bank as it continues to support its customers across diverse sectors and markets, guided by prudent risk management practices.

Uzoka said the bank is committed to sustaining its performance through a customer driven approach for the rest of the year.

“This impressive 2021 Q1 results reflect the capacity of our business to sustainably grow earnings even in a highly uncertain macroeconomic environment,” he said.

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