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Nigeria’s Transport Ministry Proposes N205Bn Capital Budget For 2021

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The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi has proposed N205 billion as capital budget for 2021 to enable the ministry make significant progress on all its ongoing projects.

Amaechi made this known in a statement to newsmen during on his presentation before the Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Representatives on Land and Marine Transport in Abuja.

He said that out of the N205 billion, land transport had about N204 million, marine transport had N845 million with an overhead cost of about N358 million for the year 2021.

“The total capital appropriation of the ministry for 2020 is N70 billion, land has N69.6 billion, marine N698 million.

“Out of this sum, N36 billion representing 51.49 per cent has been released to date with land having about N35 billion and marine with N90 million has been utilised as at Nov.2. 2020.

“In addition, the sum of N245 million was appropriated for overhead expenditure, out of which N177 million was released, the sum of N158 million of the released amount was expended as at Oct.28, 2020.

“The ministry is proposing a total capital budget of N205 billion with land transport estimates of N204 billion, marine transport estimates N845 million and overhead of N359 million in the 2021 budget, which is before you for consideration.

“The aims and objectives of these proposals are to make significant progress on all ongoing projects.

“And to complete and deliver modern railway services that will provide an efficient and cost effective alternative transport system for economic growth and job creation opportunities for the citizenry,” Amaechi said.

According to him, Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology (NITT) Zaria and Nigeria Railway Corporation (NRC) are fully funded from the national budget.

The minister said National Inland Water way Authority (NIWA), Maritime Academy and Council for the Regulation of Freight Forwarding (CRFFN) derived their funding from both the national budget and the Internally Generated Revenues (IGR).

He, however, said that three of the agencies under the ministry, namely NPA, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) were fully self-funding and made reasonable remittances to the consolidated revenue fund.

He said the major role of the ministry in the marine transport sector was to oversee the monitoring of the implementation of government policies for the sub sector, which were largely carried out by the agencies.

Amaechi said that the budget proposal had presented amounts required for completion of some of the projects by 2021, while others might extend up to 2022.

He said that the ministry was focused majorly on completing the ongoing National Freight Offices at Illela, Jibiya and Idiroko in addition to other land transport projects in 2021.

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COVID-19: Kenyan Lawmaker Seeks Dedicated Road Lanes For Ambulances

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A Kenyan lawmaker, Nominated Senator Iman Falhada Dekow, has asked the parliament to create designated special lanes on major roads and highways for ambulances.

According to Dekow, creating designated road lanes for ambulances will ease emergency medical evacuation during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

She noted that the Traffic Act 403 Section 119 provides special treatment of ambulances when they are taking people to hospital but most drivers in the East African country make it hard for the vehicles to rush patients in need of emergency medical services to the hospitals.

Dekow said most motorists do not give way for the ambulances forcing them to manoeuvre traffic yet they are carrying critical patients.

“It is important that traffic police enforce traffic rules and ensure motorists who block ambulances are arrested,” she said.

She said the trend is common in towns with high traffic levels, such as Nairobi, Kisumu, Nakuru and Mombasa.

The Traffic Act 403 Section 119 validates traffic Rule 83, which states that: “Drivers should give right of way upon hearing sirens indicating the approach of police vehicles, ambulances or fire engines.”

“We are in the middle of a pandemic and without a coordinated response to these incidents; there is a potential of unnecessary increase in morbidity and mortality,” Dekow said.

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US Removes All Visa Reciprocity Fees For Nigerians

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Nigeria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Saturday disclosed that the United States has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerians seeking visas to the US with effect from December 3.

Ferdinand Nwonye, the foreign ministry spokesman, in a statement, said the move was sequel to the removal of excess visa application, processing and biometric fees for American citizens applying for Nigerian visas.

The statement was titled, ‘Update on the removal of visa fees for Nigerian citizens by the US Government,’ advised prospective travellers to the US to visit www.travel.state.gov for details.”

Nwonye said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs wishes to inform that the United States Government has removed all visa reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens seeking visas to the United States.

“The positive development is in line with the removal of excess visa application, processing and biometric fees for United States citizens applying for Nigerian visas by the Nigerian
Government.

“The United States Government has, therefore, eliminated reciprocity fees for Nigerian citizens with effect from December 3, 2020.”

The United States had imposed reciprocity fee for all approved non-immigrant visa applications by Nigerians in 2019. The fee was charged in addition to visa application fees for only applicants who are issued visas.

The additional reciprocity fees which ranged from $80 to $303 depending on the class of visa, took effect from August 29 last year.

The US Embassy in Nigeria said the reciprocity fees were in response to unsuccessful talks with Nigeria to adjust the fees it charges American applicants.

It argued that the total cost for a US citizen to obtain a visa to Nigeria was higher than the total cost for a Nigerian to obtain a comparable visa to the United States.

The Mission insisted that the reciprocity fee was meant to eliminate the cost difference as required by US laws.

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Ghanaians Sure Presidential, Parliamentary Elections Will Be Peaceful

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Ghanaians have expressed confidence the forthcoming presidential elections will be peaceful, free and fair.

Ghana will hold the election on December 7. About 17 people are expected to participate in the elections at 38,622 polling stations across the country to elect a President and 275 members of parliament.

A former broadcaster and media consultant, John Osei Tutu Agyeman, believes in the ability of the security services to ensure a peaceful atmosphere before, during and after the elections.

“We have had these same fears in the past, but the elections in 2012 and 2016 turned out to be peaceful and beautiful.

“And I believe the security services will rise to the occasion again to preserve the peace in the country,” Agyeman, also director of the Institute of Media Practice, a media think tank, told Xinhua.

Director of Kingdom Concept Consult Princess Sekyere-Bih believed the West African country said it got assurance from the police that the elections would be peaceful.

“Not only have they deployed more trained men, but this time, they have more resources to ensure peace,” said she.

Although there were clashes between party supporters during the voter registration in June and July, the 2020 election campaign has been largely peaceful as the Coronavirus pandemic limited outdoor activities.

“This gives us a foretaste of what might happen.

“So it must inform about the strategies which the police will put in place for peace during the election,” Aremeyaw Shaibu, chairman of the Ghana-based Coalition of Domestic Election Observers, said.

Shaibu urged the security services to be at their professional best to ensure a peaceful atmosphere during and after the polls.

Although some were apprehensive due to some isolated events, the larger Ghanaian society is hopeful of a peaceful outcome for the elections, according to recent findings by the Centre for Democratic Development-Ghana (CDD-Ghana).

“Stakeholders are important,” said Rhoda Osei-Afful, an expert at CDD.
She added that the Electoral Commission (EC) “is at the helm of affairs as far as the election is concerned.

“How they engage the electorate, the political parties and their electoral officials is going to be critical in ensuring peace.

The expert also urged political parties to help their supporters channel their grievances into the EC through laid-down channels to minimise the incidents of unnecessary rancour.

The Ghana police service has identified 4,098 areas where chaos is likely to erupt ahead of the elections and provided reports to the National Election Security Taskforce to guide its tactical arrangements and deployments across 16 regions.

The 4,098 flashpoints include historical election-related hot spots and locations where other forms of violence and crime have occurred in history, said Yaw Nketia Yeboah, a spokesman for the Ghana police service.

Urging the citizenry to be law-abiding, the spokesman said: “Don’t go and teach people whom to vote for at the polling station.

“If you have any campaigning to do, do it in your houses, not at the polling stations.”

Monday’s presidential election is the third time that incumbent President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and former President John Dramani Mahama will run for presidency.

Political parties have shifted their campaign activities into top gear.
The two main candidates in the country’s presidential election committed to peaceful voting signing a peace pact on Friday on behalf of their respective political parties.

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