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Sanity returning to Apapa-Lagos as electronic call-up system begins

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Sanity is finally returning to Apapa-Lagos area, where Nigeria’s largest and most thriving ports are located, which was brought to its knees by protracted gridlock.

The gridlock seemed to have defiled several solutions as it had persisted and frustrated many business activities, some of which were forced to relocate out of the area. Many residents have had to abandon their homes too.

The gridlock began to disappear on Saturday following the commencement of the electronic call-up system introduced by the Nigerian Ports Authority.

Apapa had in the past several years defied effort to solve its traffic problem; the efforts, including a presidential task team, were blighted by corruption, THISDAY reported.

However, normalcy returned to Apapa following the removal of trucks that littered the port access roads – Apapa Oshodi Express Way and Western Avenue leading to Ijora.

When THISDAY visited both ends of the port access roads yesterday, officials of the Lagos State government and NPA taskforce teams were seen with tow vehicles well positioned to remove erring trucks.

This is the first time that electronic call-up would be deployed to direct truck movement into ports in Lagos.

This automated process, known as Eto App, is expected to permanently restore sanity within the Apapa port corridor by removing the daily traffic congestion, if properly managed.

Meanwhile, port users, operators and Apapa residents were elated by the development. They called on NPA to ensure that the effort was sustained.

A resident, Mr Chukwuma Vincent, said, “If you have been to Apapa in the past you will know what I am talking about. Our businesses went down, property lost value and people were dying.

“We call on NPA to sustain this. I drove through to my house for the first time in many years and I cried. I thought we had no government in Nigeria again. This is worth celebrating and I can only hope it lasts.”

Importers, clearing agents and truck owners also expressed optimism as the electronic call-up system began yesterday. They called for a functional holding bay by shipping companies for return of empty containers.

The NPA had late last year announced the launch of Eto, an Electronic Truck call-up system designed for the management of truck movement and access to and from the Lagos Ports Complex and the Tin Can Island Ports, Apapa, Lagos. The authority said all trucks doing business at the ports would be required to park at the approved truck parks until they were called up into the port through the Eto app. NPA explained that the Eto app will be responsible for the scheduling, entry and exit of all trucks from the ports with effect from February 27. It also stated that about 7,000 trucks had been certified fit for the digitalised call up system, revealing that effective February 27, trucks must approach the ports from a holding bay or truck parks with a bar code to access the ports.

Stakeholders were optimistic that the electronic call-up system would end corruption in the port access management system.

Vice Chairman, National Association of Road Transport Owners (NARTO), Dry Cargo section, Alhaji Abdullahi Inuwa, said the call-up system would end artificial bottlenecks on the port access roads. However, National Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Kayode Farinto, said unless the port access roads were fixed it might not yet be uhuru.

Inuwa said, “I call on all stakeholders to cooperate and allow it work. If that happens, then we will get good result. Actually, if it takes off successfully, it will eradicate corruption, no human contact and other artificial bottleneck. NARTO wishes the authority a successful take-off.

“The motive is to take trucks off the roads, but NPA should involve other garages where trucks are parked in order to successfully decongest the roads.”

Farinto urged the NPA management to be steadfast in enforcing the call-up system. He said the on-going construction of the Oshodi-Apapa expressway must also be completed in good time because there cannot be an effective call-up system without a good road.

“The road should be put in adequate place because there is nothing the call-up can achieve without a proper port access road, ” he said.

Farinto, a former chairman, Tin-Can Island chapter of ANLCA, said shipping companies must be compelled to have functional holding bay for return of empty containers.

According to him, “Shipping companies should put up a holding bay for empty containers because without an efficient holding bay, is there a way the policy can be achieved?

“NPA should also decisively take over the system and prevent the security agencies from hijacking it. They must totally remove human contact but how to achieve that I still don’t know because Terminal Delivery Order (TDO) will still be generated manually.

“Also, there is nothing on ground to show that it will be electronic. Human contact must be completely eliminated because what is happening on the port access roads is an eyesore that is giving stakeholders sleepless nights.”

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Emefiele dares reps, says CBN won’t suspend cash withdrawal limit

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  • Visits Buhari to get his support

Governor of Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, says the apex bank will not dump its new policy on cash withdrawal limit slated to begin January 9, 2023.
He spoke against the demand by the House of Representatives that the policy limiting weekly cash withdrawal to N100,000 for individuals should be suspended.
Emefiele who spoke to journalists on Thursday after meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari in Daura, Katsina State, however said the CBN would not dump the policy.
According to the CBN governor, the policy has the backing of President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “He (the President) was very happy and said we should carry on with our work; no need to fear; no need to bother about anybody.”
The CBN governor insisted that the the policy was not targeted at any particular person, but aimed at developing the economy.
But he conceded that some details of the policy may be reviewed after it came into operation.
The House of Representatives had resolved that Emefiele should appear before it next Thursday to come and explain the new policy.
This followed a motion of matter of urgent public importance moved by Aliyu Magaji (APC Jigawa) on Thursday during plenary.
Magaji had complained that the policy will affect small businesses which depend on cash for transactions with negative impact on the economy at large.
“Although the Central Bank of Nigeria has the right to issue monetary policies on the Nigerian economy to be able to guide and direct the economy to the right part of recovery and growth, however, the new policy rolled out by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) will definitely have a negative impact on the already dwindling economy, and further weakens the value of the Naira as Nigerians may resolve to use dollars and other currencies as a means of trading and thus further devalue Naira and weakens the economy.
“It is good to have a cashless policy but we seem to be borrowing ideas and policies from other countries that are far ahead of us. We are comparing ourselves with the United States and the United Kingdom. These people are far ahead of us. We will get there one day but this type of policy disturbs the people that voted for us.
“The issue affects everyone, most of our people are in rural areas and everything is being done in Naira and cash. And somebody will wake up and make a policy that will start tomorrow, no consultation,” he stated.
Responding to questions from journalists after his meeting with the President, Emefiele said: “Well, the Senate of the Federal Republic is National Assembly, they are legislative arm of the government and from time to time we brief them about what is happening and about our policies and I’m aware that they have asked for some briefings and we will brief them but I think it’s important for me to say that the cashless policy started in 2012.
“Almost three to four occasions we have had to step down the policy because we felt that there is a need for us to prepare ourselves and deepen our payment system infrastructure in Nigeria. Between 2012 and now 2022, almost about 10 years, we believe that a lot of electronic channels have been put in place that will aid people in conducting banking and financial service transactions in Nigeria.
“We heard about people talk about some of the people in the rural areas and the truth is that even online banking, as I was coming out to Daura, I saw a kiosk that has super agent today. It’s because of the way we felt that there was a need for us to deepen the payment system infrastructure.
“We have 1.4 million super agents that are all over different parts of the country, all local governments, and all villages in this country and I have told my colleagues, some of their names are already on the CBN website and we will publish all the names of all the super agents and having super agent, which is different from the banks, which is different from microfinance banks, which is different from other financial institutions.
“Having 1.4 million of them is as good as having 1.4 million banking points where people can conduct services and we think, Nigeria as a big country, the biggest economy in Africa, that we need to leapfrog into the cashless economy.”
The CBN had in a memo issued on Tuesday directed all banks and other financial institutions to ensure that over-the-counter cash withdrawals by individuals and corporate entities do not exceed N100, 000 and N500, 000, respectively, per week.
The apex bank also directed that only N200 and lower denominations should be loaded into banks’ ATM machines.

 

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End fuel crisis within 48 hours, DSS tells NNPC, marketers

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says situation becoming security threat

The Department of State Services on Thursday handed down a 48-hour ultimatum to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited (NNPCL) and other players in the oil sector to end scarcity of petrol in all parts of the country.

The fuel scarcity has persisted in Abuja, Lagos and many states for over a month, adversely affecting economic activities and a threat to security.

The situation has also resulted in hike in the price of the product.

But speaking to journalists at a press conference on Thursday in Abuja, the DSS said the situation was becoming a threat to the nation’s internal security and it needed to intervene.

Spokesperson for the DSS, Peter Afunaya, spoke to journalists on the issue, saying they had a closed door meeting with the NNPCL and others relevant operators in the sector and they had promised to end the scarcity of the product.

He said, “Today, we held a meeting with NNPLC and other stakeholders in the downstream sector which include the Nigerian Midstream and Downstream Petroleum Regulatory Authority, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers, Independent Petroleum Marketers Association of Nigeria, Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, depot operators among others.

“We were clear and told them enough is enough on the lingering fuel scarcity. We told them they should resolve the hurdle right away. Nigerians have the right to have access to petroleum products. We told them we would not continue to tolerate the scarcity.”

Afunaya said the DSS had to intervene because of it is mandated by the constitution to prevent threats to national security as well as to prevent sabotage to the Nigerian economy.

“You might be wondering what our business is on this issue. Don’t forget the Constitution charges us with the mandate of detecting and preventing any threat against our internal security.

“We are also empowered to investigate economic sabotage of concern to national security.”

He added that all stakeholders in the sector agreed on the need to end the scarcity at the meeting with them.

Afunaya said on its own part, the DSS would provide security for the distribution of fuel across the country.

According to him, all the DSS commands in the country are on alert and will begin operations to bring defaulters to book.

He said, “The major takeaway from our deliberation is that there is sufficient fuel that would last us throughout the Yuletide and beyond in the country despite all other issues raised.

“The NNPCL said there are 1.9 billion barrels of petroleum in stock and all the stakeholders agreed to that.

“Among the resolutions reached at the end of the meeting is that the marketers will be operating for 24 hours on a daily basis.

“Also, tanker operators assured that all hands will be on deck to ensure the lifting of the products.

“Similarly, the NNPCL agreed to sell at ex-depot price. It also agreed to decentralise distributions to impact positively on marketers.”

 

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Just in: Reps halt CBN’s cash withdrawal policy, summon Emefiele

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The House of Representatives has asked the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) not to implement the new cash withdrawal policy slated for January 9, 2023 pending compliance with the provisions of the Act establishing the bank.

The House also summoned CBN Governor Godwin Emiefele to brief the Chamber on several policies of the bank in recent times.

The lawmakers on Thursday condemned the new cash withdrawal policy, saying it would grossly affect small businesses and the economy especially those in  the rural communities who do not have access to banks.

And following a point of order raised by Mark Gbillah on the provisions of the Central Bank Act, the House directed the CBN Governor to appear before the House on Thursday, December 15, 2022 to brief the House on why the policy should be allowed to stand.

Magaji Da’u Aliyu, who sponsored the motion, said the new policy by the CBN, which limits daily cash withdrawal to N20,000 daily should not be allowed to stand as it would adversely affect the Nigerian people, especially those running small-scale businesses.

He said while the country was trying to come to terms with the decision to redesign the currency, the CBN was coming up with yet another policy that will adversely affect the masses without proper advocacy.

 

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