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Host communities, CSOs reject PIB, say it will create impunity

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The recent promise by the current leadership of the National Assembly to pass the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB) in April may not be fulfilled following the rejection of the bill on Thursday by host communities and civil society groups in the Niger Delta.

In rejecting the bill, they said it was designed to further enslave oil producing communities and create confusion in the region.

Spokesperson for the CSOs and host communities in the Niger Delta, Botti Isaac, said the current PIB would not protect the host communities as it could only leave them at the mercy of the oil companies.

He also said the bill when passed and signed into law would promote confusion in the Niger Delta and further expose the communities to environmental degradation and untold hardship, adding that communities in the Niger Delta will not accept such a law.

He accused the National Assembly of not allowing a fair and adequate opportunity for vulnerable stakeholders in the region to have a say in the legislative process towards passing the PIB.

He accused the lawmakers of giving so much attention to the government and oil companies to speak on the bill.

Isaac said, “We believe that a new set of laws are necessary to govern the petroleum industry in Nigeria.

“However, the PIB’s proposals, as it is, would promote environmental impunity in the oil industry and exacerbate social dislocation in the oil-bearing communities in the Niger Delta.

“On Tuesday, January 26. 2021, representatives of oil-bearing communities and civil society organisations from the Niger Delta were denied the right to participate in so-called Public Hearings organised by the Senate.

“After dedicating the first day of the hearing to take elaborate presentations from oil company representatives and government stakeholders, the Chairman of the Committee promised to allow the presentation of host communities’ views the next day.

“Unfortunately, rather than accord the representatives of oil-bearing communities the same attention, they were denied the opportunity to speak and instead asked to ceremonially hand over copies of their memorandum to the session Chairman.

“Again, we noted a similar display at the House of Representatives Hearing where members of oil host communities were denied access to the public hearing hall.

“We consider the manner the National Assembly has handled host communities and civil society contributions in these hearings as deliberately aimed at ensuring those critical voices are not heard.

“As the Petroleum Industry Bill is critical to the functionality of the oil and gas sector and the Nigerian economy, it is of utmost importance that all stakeholders are treated equally and accorded the same opportunity to discuss its contents and proposal.

“We are also profoundly concerned about the limited number of days and hours allocated to the Public Hearings on the PIB. Each day’s session lasts between 10 am and 1 pm. On the average, only about three hours are spent on the hearings each day, amounting to only six hours of public hearings in both houses of the legislature. To say the least, this is grossly inadequate and does not indicate a commitment to aggregating and considering all views.”

He said further that while the PIB remains the oldest and perhaps the most contentious bills in Nigeria’s legislature, it has suffered several setbacks, adding that “while we support a speedy passage of the Bill, we are more interested in such bill’s content and quality.

“As currently proposed, the PIB 2020 is inadequate to address the environmental, human rights and livelihoods concerns of host communities. Proposal for a host communities development fund does not support the participation of the communities in decision making.

“The governance structures proposed for the host communities fund deliberately deny any meaningful level of community participation while overtly promoting oil companies’ control and prominence.

“Oil companies described as ‘Settlors’ in the Bill are empowered to set up the Board of Trustees of the Trusts and conduct needs assessment and produce development plans on behalf of host communities. We believe that the level of emphasis on oil companies could fuel oil industry divide-and-rule tactics and stoke communal conflicts.

“It is also important to note that environmental pollution concerns are almost entirely ignored as the Executive Bill focuses more on production and commercial viability of the industry. The PIB 2020 ‘disempowers’ federal and state environmental agencies from the monitoring and enforcement of environmental regulations in the petroleum industry.

 “While Nigeria records the highest and unacceptable levels of crude oil spills globally, and the country is among the worst in gas flaring globally, the PIB 2020 fails woefully in addressing these issues. There is no clear provision for addressing environmental pollution and sanctioning polluters. The bill fails to introduce any new measures to encourage the elimination of routine gas flaring.

“A key source of contention in the PIB, at least from the point of view of host communities, is the fact that it places responsibility for the protection of pipeline and other oil infrastructures with the communities.

“According to the Bill, the host community advisory committee ‘take responsibility for first line protection of facilities and ensure that petroleum operations are uninterrupted by members of their community failing which, benefits from the trust to the host community shall be.

He argued that placing the protection of oil installations on some unarmed host communities is unrealistic as “previous researches conducted by Social Action reveals that oil theft which is the major reason for puncturing oil pipelines is carried out mainly by armed cartels who are most times not even members of the community”.

He stressed if this provisions of the law is allowed to stand, “it could result in consistent denial of benefits which could in turn engender conflicts.”

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Bolt raises €600m from Sequoia, others to continue building first-ever super-app

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Bolt, the leading ride-hailing and mobility platform, has raised €600 million in a funding round that increases its valuation to over €4 billion.

 

The funds will boost its new 15-minute grocery delivery service and to accelerate the expansion of its existing mobility and delivery products.

 

Sequoia Capital has backed the company as part of the round alongside other new investors Tekne and Ghisallo.

 

Existing backers also participated including G Squared, D1 Capital and Naya.

 

Markus Villig, CEO at Bolt, said: “Bolt’s mission is to make urban travel affordable and sustainable. We are building a future where people are not forced to buy cars that cause traffic and pollution but use on-demand transport when they actually need it.

 

“After seven years of relentless execution, Bolt’s mobility and delivery products offer a better alternative to almost every use case a car serves.

 

“I’m thrilled to bring these products to millions of customers around Europe and Africa, taking the emphasis off cars and giving cities back to the people.”

 

Femi Akin-Laguda, Country Manager, Bolt Nigeria, added: “We remain committed to simplifying mobility and providing the best value for our customers in more than 25 cities in Nigeria.

 

“Bolt will continue building solutions that alleviate everyday mobility challenges with our safe and affordable services while we also remain committed to providing market leading earnings for our drivers.

 

“With this investment, we will keep introducing effective solutions, features and products that are important to all our customers while having a positive socio-economic impact on the economy.”

 

Andrew Reed, partner at Sequoia, said: “Bolt is redefining urban transportation in much of the world. Markus is a driven founder who has built an operationally excellent business spanning Europe and Africa and a mission-driven culture that forms the foundation of an enduring company. Bolt helps customers, cities, and the environment. We’re delighted to partner with them.”

 

Bolt has experienced hypergrowth in the past year — the company has grown to 75 million customers globally.

 

The ride-hailing company currently operates across seven African countries, providing earning opportunities for over 400,000 drivers in over 70 cities across the continent.

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Kia gets 30,000 pre-orders for battery-powered EV6 sedan

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Kia Motor Corporation, South Korea’s second-biggest carmaker, has launched an all-electric EV6 sedan in the domestic market ahead of its overseas launches later this year.
Already, the automaker says it has received over 30,000 pre-orders for the EV6 in the domestic market, and a combined 8,800 pre-orders in Europe and the United States, according to a report by Just Autos.
The maker of the K5 sedan and the Sorento SUV aim to sell 13,000 units of the zero-emission model on its home turf and 17,000 units in overseas markets this year.
The EV6 is Kia’s first model embedded with Hyundai Motor Group’s own EV-only electric-global modular platform (E-GMP).

The EV6 is priced at 47 million won-57 million won (US$40,800-$49,500) in Korea. With government subsidies, it can be purchased for under 40 million won.
The model is available with two kinds of battery packs — a standard 58-kilowatt-hour (kWh) battery pack and a long-range 77.4-kWh one. The 58-kWh and 77.4-kWh models can travel up to 370 kilometres and 475 km, respectively, on a single charge.
Kia also plans to introduce sedans, SUVs and multipurpose vehicles based on the new EV platform for the next seven years.
It plans to beef up its EV lineup with 11 models, including the seven E-GMP-based ones, by 2025.
With its strengthened EV lineup, it aims to achieve a 6.6 percent share of the global battery-powered EV market by 2025 and global annual sales of 500,000 units by 2026.
Kia’s current EV market share is not available as its EV sales accounted for only 1 percent of its overall sales in 2019.
In April, Kia’s bigger affiliate Hyundai Motor Co. launched the IONIQ 5 all-electric model equipped with the E-GMP platform.
Hyundai plans to introduce the IONIQ 6 next year and the IONIQ 7 large SUV in 2024. It will begin using alphanumeric names like its bigger rivals, such as BMW, whose models are named Series No. 1-8.

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GAC, Huawei plan smart electric SUV

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China-based auto firm, GAC Motors has sealed a deal with high-tech giant, Huawei, to produce a smart electric sport utility vehicle.
The GAC Group said its first joint project with Huawei would be a “smart SUV” with mass production targeted by the end of 2023.
GAC Motor aims to produce an entirely electrified lineup of vehicles by 2025.
GAC and Huawei said they planned to produce eight models together.
The medium to large size, pure electric SUV would have Level four autonomous driving capabilities, it added.
“GAC Group embraces and encourages extensive technological innovation in its vehicles, and Huawei is a global leader in many types of technology. This strategic cooperation will allow them to build a new generation of intelligent vehicles and digital platforms,” the pair said in a joint statement.
They also said, “This SUV and multiple other future models will utilise GAC’s GEP.30 chassis platform and Huawei’s computing and communication architecture as well as carrying Huawei’s full stack of intelligent vehicle solutions.”
Since signing a strategic cooperation agreement in 2017, GAC and Huawei have worked together on intelligent connected electric vehicle technology.
In September 2020 in Guangzhou, the two firms signed an agreement to further deepen cooperation, with a focus on computing and communication architecture in accordance with the trend in ‘software-heavy’ vehicles.

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