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#EndSARS: We’ve started rebuilding affected SMEs, says Lagos gov

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Lagos State Government says it has commenced the task of rebuilding the infrastructure destroyed in the state during the #EndSARS protests last October by offering needed support for the affected Small and Medium Enterprises.

Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who stated this in Abuja, however, noted that it would take some time to fully rebuild the damaged infrastructure in the state.

The governor spoke with State House correspondents on Thursday after a closed-door meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.

He said state government had begun the rebuilding process by providing support to affected small and medium-scale businesses.

According to him, pooling resources from all possible angles and sources to tackle the task would have to be creative, coupled with the fact that the crisis that led to the destruction is still very fresh.

He, however, assured Lagosians that the administration had its priorities about achieving restoration all set out, adding that it would not fail to deliver to the people on the promise to restore Lagos back to its previous bustling state.

Sanwo-Olu said, “It’s also some of the things I discussed with Mr. President. It’s work in progress. To take something down it takes one day, to rebuild it takes 10 years. It’s a journey, not a destination. And so it’s going to take a while. We are carefully taking a proper study to know what we need to do, taking our time to get it right, but we’ve started something.

“Businesses that were affected, some businesses that were affected: somebody having their shops looted or burnt or something. We’ve been able to directly begin to support such businesses, especially on a micro, small level, using the Lagos State Employment Trust Fund.

“They have started intervening and supporting some of these small businesses, giving them grants, giving them soft loans and making sure that they can come back together very quickly.

 “The bigger, larger items around infrastructure, around transportation, they will take a fairly longer time. We’re talking about a period that is still under three months. So, it’s still a working document that we are doing right now and we also have to be very creative in how we raise the finance.”

He also said, “We didn’t have money anywhere; you know it was towards the end of a financial year and we’re just starting another year. So, it’s to be able to make budgetary provisions for these things and be able to raise required funding, both support from the private sector and also from the public sector, before we can begin to reconstruct some of those huge infrastructure.

“But we have them all focused and we’ll be tackling them. But the low hanging, as I said, are the small businesses that we’ve started supporting so that people can get back to life very quickly.”

He also spoke on the state government’s plan to manage the second wave of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, saying more attention was being given to providing more oxygen to meet the need of victims of the disease who are in the critical category.

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Buhari signs N983bn supplementary budget into law

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President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday signed the 2021 supplementary appropriation bill of N983 billion into law.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (House of Representatives), Umar El-yakub, announced this while briefing state house correspondents after the signing.
He said a total sum of the supplementary budget assented to is N982,729,695,343, adding that the supplementary budget would be largely focused on funding security and health concerns.
The assent by the President is coming a month after the Federal Executive Council approved the supplementary budget for the year 2021.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, had said the budget contained an aggregate sum N770.60 billion to further enhance the capacity of the defense and the security agencies to address current and emerging security challenges in our country.
Ahmed said a total of N83.56 billion expenditure is set aside in the budget for COVID-19 vaccine programme, covering 30 million vaccines from Johnson and Johnson and the logistics costs related to the deployment of the vaccines.
The budget also has N40 billion provision to take care of the needs for allowances to the health, education sectors, and other wage-related issues.
Ahmed had added that the supplementary also had N1.69 billion for the Nigeria Comprehensive AIDS programme.

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Gas-powered mass transit buses set for operation in Nigeria

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A revolutionary mass transit operation using ECO-Green buses is soon to be introduced in some Nigerian city centres.
The buses already being used in major cities of the world are powered by flare gas recovered compressed natural gas (CNG), which is usually flared in the Niger Delta, Nigeria and causing environmental pollution and crisis in the region.
Chief Executive Officer of Austrian Technologies Nigeria Limited, Johann Rieger, said the ECO-green buses had been built on European standards for critical climate and infrastructure as in Nigeria.
According to him, the buses are the safest and most economic public mass transit vehicles that can reduce carbon footprints by 95 per cent and operating cost by 30 per cent.
Specifically, he said the buses, coming with a lifespan of at least 15 years, had been equipped with engines of higher emission standards (Euro 5) with no toxic, smog or smoke, guaranteeing reduced noise and lower fuel costs. In Malaysia, those buses run 15 years with over 90% average uptime.
Rieger also said the project would guarantee local capacity building of the buses through extensive transfer of the technology and know-how within a short time of the entire value chain.
Indeed, he said, “Up to 70 per cent of all components of the eco-green buses should be manufactured or assembled locally within five years of operation including the first green engine.”

He said the project would come with uniquely designed and efficient drivers’ safety training that would allow safe increase of passengers’ capacity by 30 per cent in accordance with international standards of public transport.

He said the vehicle had been built with the highest operational standards and expected to save the operator a minimum of $25,000 in comparison to any other large capacity bus.

He noted that six eco-green buses would do the job of at least 10 biggest BRT buses currently being operated in Nigeria and by switching over to locally available natural gas, he said at least $20,000 of foreign exchange is also saved.

He noted that driving with natural gas is the most environmentally friendly solution wherever this green fuel is available. They partnered already with local CNG suppliers who are ready to invest and guarantee 24/7 availability of the gas directly inside the bus depot of operators anywhere in the country.

About 90 per cent uptime, and maximum efficiency and transparency would be guaranteed through permanent real-time monitoring of each bus by eco- telematics and extended after-sale service with 24/7 spare parts availability and directly including service and wear parts for the first two years, said Rieger.

Some of the unique features of an ECO-green bus are given as roof mounted CNG cylinder with up to 500km range and gas leakage detection system and tyre pressure monitoring system.
The air and surfaces in their buses is permanently and chemical free sanitized by their ECO Viroxx air conditioning system with bipolar ionization.
Others are speed limiter, alcohol test and driver’s fatigue detection with driver’s biometric identification, CCTV camera system that can be directly integrated into the city surveillance system reverse camera; handicapped ramp and wheelchair area.

Rieger listed some of the technical features of the bus as electronic dashboard with extended eco-telematics system, real time driver’s feedback on safety and economic driving; on board video education in cooperation with UNICEF.
The bus is said to come on the same bus platform as 8.7m for 60 passengers; 10.5m for 80 passengers, 12m for 100 people and 18m accommodating 160 passengers.

 

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Autochek, Appzone collaborate on flexible vehicle finance solution

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Autochek automotive technology company has entered into a partnership with Appzone Group, a leading FinTech firm, to provide Nigerians with quick and flexible access to car financing, including those in the rural areas.
The partnership, according to the two firms, will see the Autochek platform integrating with Appzone’s proprietary digital core banking service, BankOne, in facilitating access to credit from over 400 microfinance institutions for people across the country.
Speaking at the official signing event, Chief Technology Officer at Autochek, Chetan Seth, said, “Obtaining access to financing in Nigeria is a tedious process. At Autochek, we are committed to providing consumers with seamless access to credit in order for them to own their vehicles. With technology, we are able to provide vehicle financing at sca d this will be accelerated even further by integrating with le, an Appzone’s network.
“We are very much customer-focused and we operate in an on-demand economy, we therefore recognise the need to efficiently provide a plethora of options for customers to access loans. Our partnership with Appzone will enable us to further increase their options through access to the microfinance banks currently available on their platform.”

Mr Mudiaga Umukoro, the CEO of Appzone Core, a subsidiary company of Appzone Group said, “BankOne is our flagship product and Africa’s foremost banking-as-a platform (BaaP) solution. Over the last 10 years, we have focused on digitizing the microfinance sector. We have enabled over 400 microfinance institutions spread across the entire country, with the capability for fully-digital banking operations. And now through our partnership with Autochek, these institutions available can now provide quick digital loans to prospective car owners anywhere in Nigeria.
“What this ensures is a win-win approach as MFBs can target more customers as well as increase revenue through loan offerings, whilst customers across the country, either in urban or remote areas, are more easily empowered with business and/or personal vehicles with little hassle.”
Some details about the new auto loan arrangement provided in a statement indicate that the credit sourcing process starts with the listing of prequalified vehicles from the dealers on Autochek’s platform.
Potential customers have the opportunity to select their choice from a pool of cars that have gone through a 150 point inspection process carried out by Autochek’s accredited technical experts.
The customers are then able to submit their loan applications digitally through the autochek website to over 400 financial partners currently available on Appzone’s BankOne network. Within 24 hours, customers receive multiple offers and have the option to select their most preferred financial partner.
Appzone transitions all accepted loan applications into the BankOne’s proprietary credit administration module which automatically enables the account opening, underwriting and eventual disbursement.
The customer is now able to get a transparent step-by-step update throughout the whole process.

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