Travel News

FG set for Kano-Maradi Rail Line Ground Breaking 9th February - TVC

FEBRUARY 08, 2021

The Federal Government is set for the Ground Breaking ceremony of Kano-Maradi rail line on Tuesday, 9th February,2021  to commence the 284km  standard gauge rail project by the contractor,  Messrs Mota-Engil Nigeria Ltd, a Portuguese firm.

The Minister of Transportation,  Rotimi Amaechi has said that the Kano-Maradi line is crucial to the overall railway development in Nigeria and the sub region and therefore when completed,  it represents the last section of the corridor that connects Lagos-Kano and subsequently to the Republic of Niger, through the border town of Maradi.

The Project which is a standard gauge railway line of about 284km traverses Kano-Dambatta-Kazaure-Daura-Mashi-Katsina-Jibiya-Maradi in Niger Republic.

The line has been designed to pass close to major cities, town and villages without dividing them to facilitate public transportation and to stimulate the development of the agricultural economy and manufacturing industries along the corridor as well reduce the cost development.

The project is planned to have a total of 15 stations including Maradi which comprises 2 main stations in Kano and Katsina, 3 medium stations in Kazaure, Daura and Jibiya, 3 small stations in Shagalle, Dambatta and Mashi, with other Halt stations at the Airport,  Kunya Dube,Muduru, Daddara, Anoal Mata and Maradi.


The rail line which has a branch line to Kano-Dutse is important because of it’s potential in harnessing raw materials and agro products along the corridor.

“The project when completed will serve domestic industries and play the role of a viable transportation backbone, linking countries in the West Africa sub-region starting with the neighbouring Niger Republic for their import and export logistics chain.

“In the process, the volume of trade in the country will increase while promoting the realisation of Nigeria’s interest on the Africa Free Trade Single Market Area formulation.

“ The railway will account for average freight carriage forecast of 1,043,980.5 tons annually in the first 10years of operation within its short corridor and a forecast of average passenger traffic of 3,543,637.9 annually within the same period.

“A geometrical increase in this service is expected when it is linked to the South Nigeria port of Apapa, Tin-can Island and Warri is realised by the construction of Lagos-Kano and Abuja-Itakpe respectively to average forecast of 2.2Million tons annually and passenger traffic of average of 5.1million.”

The main agricultural crops grown in commercial quantity along the corridor are groundnuts, cassava,yam,potatoes, millet,  maize, rice, beans, as food crops and livestock include cattle, sheep, goat and poultry.

The total population of the three states concerned by the new line which is Kano, Katsina and Maradi has 19,563,874 inhabitants in 2006 and was estimated at 22,166,543 in 2010, which by estimated annual growth rate of 2.7 percent will amount to 28,933,988 in 2020 which represents 14 percent of the total population of Nigeria.

The ground breaking which will be done by President, Muhammadu Buhari  will be attended by the Minister of transportation of Niger, Governors, Ambassadors, Ministers, of both countries and other important stakeholders in the sector.

Covid: Two tests for all UK arrivals during quarantine - BBC

FEBRUARY 09, 2021

All travellers entering the UK will be required to take two coronavirus tests while quarantining in an attempt to prevent variants entering the country.

Arrivals are expected to be required to get a test on days two and eight of their 10-day quarantine period.

The Department of Health said the move would provide a "further level of protection", enabling authorities to track new cases more effectively.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock will set out more details in the Commons later.

It is in addition to the current rules which say travellers arriving in the UK, whether by boat, train or plane, must show proof of a negative Covid-19 test to be allowed entry.

This test must be taken in the 72 hours before travelling, and anyone arriving without one faces a fine of up to £500, with Border Force officials carrying out spot checks.

The "test to release scheme" where travellers from non-red list countries can leave home isolation after a negative test on day five will stay.

The government has not confirmed whether passengers will be expected to use the gold-standard and more expensive PCR tests or cheaper lateral flow devices.

Travellers must provide contact details and their UK address. They can then travel - by public transport if necessary - to the place where they plan to self-isolate.

Meanwhile, from 15 February, UK residents and Irish nationals arriving from certain countries will have to quarantine in hotels.

Passengers will have to stay in their rooms for 10 nights, with security guards accompanying if they go outside.

The rules will apply to UK nationals and residents arriving from 33 "red list" Covid-19 hotspots - mostly in South America and Africa - where it's feared Covid variants may have already spread. Passengers will be expected to pay for the cost of the accommodation.

Non-UK travellers who have been in these countries in the 10 days before travelling are banned from entry.

Another layer on top of an already layered travel policy.

Regardless of where travellers arrive from outside of the UK and Ireland, they will be required to take at least one test during their time in quarantine. That's in addition to the test passengers already need to take in the 72 hours before they travel to the U.K.

The type and number of tests that will be required has not been confirmed by the government, although there's speculation that arrivals will need to take one test on the 2nd day of quarantine and another on the 8th day.

There are questions about when and how this policy will be enforced, as well as who will pay for the tests.

The aviation industry has expressed concern that if more layers are added to the policy, it will take longer for business to return.

It comes as England's deputy chief medical officer warned it was soon to say to what extent people could begin to start planning summer holidays.

Speaking at Monday's coronavirus briefing, Prof Jonathan Van-Tam said: "The more elaborate your plans are for summer holidays, in terms of crossing borders, in terms of household mixing, given where we are now, I think we just have to say the more you are stepping into making guesses about the unknown at this point," he said.

"I can't give people a proper answer at this point because we don't yet have the data. It is just too early to say."

Lockdown rules mean people must only travel abroad for essential reasons. These are the same as the "reasonable excuses" for domestic travel, including:

  • Work that cannot be done from home
  • Medical appointments
  • Educational reasons

People leaving England will soon have to make a declaration on why they need to travel, which will be checked by carriers prior to departure.

Speaking about the new testing plans, a Department of Health and Social Care said it was "important the government continues to take the necessary steps to protect people and save lives".

A spokesman added: "Enhancing our testing regime to cover all arrivals while they isolate will provide a further level of protection and enable us to better track any new cases which might be brought into the country, and give us even more opportunities to detect new variants."

COVID-19: FG govt places travel restrictions on 100 Nigerians - DAILY POST

FEBRUARY 09, 2021

The Federal Government has placed a travel restriction on 100 Nigerians from international trips for flouting COVID-19 guidelines.

This was announced by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 via its Twitter handle on Tuesday.

The PTF also released the passport details of the defaulters, stating that they have been restricted from travelling for six months.

“Presidential Task Force sanctions 100 Passports in Second Batch of those who failed to comply with the mandatory Day 7 post-arrival COVID-19 Test.

“They have been placed on a six-month travel restriction from February 5 to July 30, 2021,” the tweet said.

Delta Air Lines to leave middle seats empty through April - ASSOCIATED PRESS

FEBRUARY 09, 2021

ATLANTA — Delta Air Lines said Monday it will continue to block some seats on all flights through spring break and Easter to provide a bit more space between passengers.

The Atlanta-based airline announced Monday that it will limit capacity on flights through April 30. Delta said it will block middle seats in most cabins although groups of three or more passengers can choose to sit together.

During the early days of the pandemic, several U.S. airlines blocked middle seats, although United Airlines never did. The others that temporarily limited the number of seats for sale have since dropped the practice, at least in the main cabin, including Southwest, JetBlue, Alaska and American.

A Delta official, Bill Lentsch, said the airline will monitor virus cases and vaccination rates as it reassess its seating policy.

Airlines that no longer block seats cite research by the Pentagon's transport command and others that concluded the risk of transmitting the virus that causes COVID-19 during a flight is very low.

Air travel was a major vector of the disease, especially in the early part of the pandemic, before most countries imposed travel restrictions. Many health officials also blamed travel for surges in newly reported virus cases in the U.S. after Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Associated Press

Ottawa lays out criteria for quarantine hotels as it inches toward new travel rule - THE CANADIAN PRESS

FEBRUARY 09, 2021

OTTAWA — Hotel operators seeking to take part in Canada's mandatory three-day quarantine for returning travellers can now access the criteria, though it comes as cold comfort to a battered industry.

The conditions posted online put the government one step closer to fulfilling its late-January pledge that all passengers returning from non-essential trips abroad will have to self-isolate in a federally mandated facility for up to 72 hours at their own expense.

The government has not said when the measure, which aims to head off COVID-19 cases and contagious variants of the novel coronavirus at the border, will come into effect.

Hoteliers say the criteria seem reasonable, but doubt the quarantine rule will deliver a significant boost in business to the hammered hospitality sector.

To qualify as a "listed hotel," lodgings must be near one of the four airports currently accepting international flights — in Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver.

They must provide transportation from the airport, free wireless internet access and no-contact meal delivery to rooms, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Hotels would also have to set up a process for brief outdoor breaks and report daily check-in and checkout numbers, as well as non-compliant guests to the agency. That means monitoring traveller movement within the building, it says.

Hotel submissions are due on Wednesday, two days after the criteria were posted online.

Hotel operators question whether the quarantine order, which will see guests pay upwards of $2,000, including the cost of a mandatory COVID-19 test, will help them rebuild after a sector collapse.

"I don't think this is going to boost anything," said Eve Paré, who heads the Hotel Association of Greater Montreal.

"There'll be very few travellers."

Association members have lost $700 million in room revenue and laid off 90 per cent of their staff, she said.

"It's been a disaster since the very beginning of the pandemic."

She added that the health agency's criteria seem easy to meet for hotels that lie within the requisite 10-kilometre radius of the airport.

"What they ask, it's pretty much what's already there," she said, referring to stipulations from ventilation to laundry to cleaning protocols. Hotels that have all but shut down will have to rehire cooks or order food from off-site, she noted.

The need to quarantine in a hotel is one of a series of federal measures targeting international travel in the past month.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Jan. 29 that Canadian airlines had suspended flights to Mexico and the Caribbean until April 30, and that hotel self-isolation was en route.

As of Jan. 7, residents who choose to fly abroad have had to provide proof of negative results for a COVID-19 test taken less than 72 hours before departure back to home soil.

The upcoming quarantine rule has faced resistance from civil liberties advocates concerned about its impact on mobility rights.

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association said Monday it might unfairly impact Canadians — particularly lower-income travellers — who need to care for sick relatives or receive specialized medical care abroad.

In a letter to the federal transport minister and attorney general, the association demanded Ottawa carve out quarantine exemptions and fee waivers for certain situations.

The quarantine order is not the only area where Ottawa is playing catchup.

The Canadian Transportation Agency now faces a backlog of more than 16,000 unprocessed complaints from air passengers.

The buildup follows a surge of complaints after airlines began cancelling flights en masse without refunding customers starting in mid-March, as well as a slew of complaints in the preceding months when a passenger rights charter came into force.

About 60 per cent or nearly 8,000 of the roughly 13,400 complaints filed to the agency since mid-March relate to refunds, the regulator said in an email Monday.

"It really underscores the need for the government to find some way to mandate the airlines to provide passenger refunds," said NDP transport critic Taylor Bachrach.

“The question for the government is, what improvements are they going to make to ensure that passenger complaints actually get heard by the CTA?"

The agency took 157 business days on average to resolve a complaint in 2020-21, compared to an average of 55 business days the year before, according to the regulator's response to an order paper question from the NDP.

Marc Garneau, when he was federal transport minister, announced in November the government planned to negotiate an aid package for struggling airlines that would be conditional on them agreeing to offer reimbursement for cancelled trips, but negotiations have faltered.

"To the extent that the announced negotiations between the government and airlines on financial assistance result in the payment of refunds to some passengers, a portion of the almost 8,000 complaints referenced above may be quickly resolved," the transportation agency said.

Fresh funding allocated to deal with the influx of complaints allowed it to start hiring 29 new employees in June and retain 32 others whose terms were set to wrap up last spring, the regulator said.

It has processed some 9,000 complaints over the past 11 months.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 8, 2021.

Christopher Reynolds, The Canadian Press

For Hong Kongers, Canada is beaten path out of China’s grip - REUTERS

FEBRUARY 10, 2021


Black History Month: ‘I didn’t know about racism until I came to Canada’ - WT

FEBRUARY 10, 2021

When an exhibit on Niagara’s Black military history was unveiled at the Niagara Military Museum in Niagara Falls in November, one of the panellists told the story of Private James Grant of St. Catharines.

In the First World War, where he was wounded by poisonous mustard gas, he was the first Black Canadian to be awarded the Military Medal for “conspicuous gallantry” for risking his life to rush desperately needed ammunition to his fellow soldiers in a battle in Belgium.

He was a hero, but the fact he was even allowed to be in the military unit was noteworthy: Black men were typically not welcomed by white-dominated military units in the Great War.

That kind of overt racism isn’t as visible these days in Niagara, but racialized people say it is very much alive here, even today.

As Canada celebrates annual Black History Month in February, Nwakerendu Waboso of Niagara Falls can’t help but wonder if the day will come when Canadians no longer face discrimination because of their skin colour.

The mother of three was born in Canada but moved with her parents to Nigeria when she was seven, then her family returned to Niagara when she was age 14. In Grade 8, at her school in St. Catharines, she was one of only two Black children.

“I didn’t know about racism until we came to Canada,” said Waboso. “It was quite a jarring experience for me. Prejudice was something I’d never experienced, nor was I prepared for it.”

The PhD student in child and youth studies is one of 20 students selected by Brock University as recipients of the new Horizon Graduate Student Scholarship, which over the next 10 years will provide $1 million collectively for high-achieving graduate students who are Black, Indigenous, people of colour or from other under-represented groups.

Sherri Darlene of Niagara Falls is founder of the Justice 4 Black Lives movement, and organized the rally in the city last summer that drew thousands after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. She said she’s felt the sting of racism in school, in stores, and in the workplace.

She’s even had hateful racial slurs screamed at her by a total stranger as she walked her dog on a beautiful day on Victoria Avenue.

“Canada likes to think we’re exempt from that, but I’ve lived here my entire life and I encounter racism on a regular basis,” she said.

Darlene said it’s time for society to have blunt conversations about racism and historical wrongs such as slavery, and overcome stereotypes through education — including curriculum in schools that isn’t limited to history books romanticizing white history.

“Let’s talk about the brutal history of slavery,” she said. “Let’s teach why it’s not OK to say the N-word.”

She is now routinely invited to speak at companies and to groups, but knows it will be a long, hard slog to overcome systemic racism. “I’ve got to do the work because the idea of my grandchildren going through what I went through in Niagara Falls is sickening to me,” she said.

Darlene hopes the worldwide outrage over the death of Floyd created a tipping point. So, too, does her 116-year-old great-grandmother living in the United States.

Darlene said long ago the woman’s son borrowed 25 cents from a neighbouring white woman, then later that day returned to pay her back. The woman’s husband came out and shot him dead, she said, adding that no police were called, and there was no investigation.

But Darlene said her great-grandmother has watched the rallies, including the one Darlene organized, with hope.

It’s unbelievable to her,” she said. “She’s really hopeful and she’s really amazed and proud, not just of me but how the movement is going.”

US Consulate Seeks Increase From 13,762 Nigerians Studying In America - NIGERIAN TRIBUNE

FEBRUARY 10, 2021

•Opens EducationUSA advising centre in Ibadan

By Wale Akinselure

Up from over 13,762 Nigerians, the United States Consulate has expressed a desire to have an increase in the number of Nigerians studying in the United States.

This desire informed the opening of the third EducationUSA Advising Center in Ibadan, on Wednesday.

According to the latest Institute of International Education Open Doors Report, Nigeria retained its top ranking as the number one source of African students studying in the United States with about 13,762 Nigerians studying in more than 1,000 US colleges and universities.

The Ibadan centre of EducationUSA, which is the third after Lagos and Abuja offices, is set up to advise Nigerians who want to seek studies in the United States.

Cited at the American Corner, Jericho in Ibadan, the centre be offering a regular schedule of individual, group and online advising sessions to intending students.

At the centre, students will have the unique opportunity to explore the diversity and vitality of higher education in the United States. Periodically, representatives from US institutions, alumni as well as EducationUSA advisors will be available to interact with registered members and other interested members of the public.

Speaking at the opening, the US Consulate Public Affairs Officer Stephen Ibelli said the centre will assist prospective undergraduate and graduate students in navigating the admissions process by providing comprehensive and accurate information about the more than 4,000 accredited higher education institutions in the United States.

“We are extremely pleased to open an EducationUSA Advising Center in Ibadan,” Ibelli said at a brief ceremony attended by teachers, students, and educational administrators.

“Nigeria is home to so many talented, ambitious young people, who often ask us about studying in the United States.

EducationUSA presents an opportunity for young Nigerians to obtain a world-class education in the United States and then return home to contribute to Nigeria’s economic growth and development,” he said.

In his goodwill message, Oyo State Commissioner for Education, Science and Technology, Barrister Sunkanmi Olaleye, expressed the readiness of the state government to partner with the US Consulate to expand access to the services of the new EducationUSA Advising Center.

In addition to Ibadan, EducationUSA Advising Centers are set to be opened in Calabar, Jos and Kano.

Over the last 21 years, the EducationUSA Advising Centers in Nigeria have directly contributed to an increase in the number of highly qualified Nigerian applicants to US institutions.


Emirates suspends flights from Lagos, Abuja airports - THE NATION

FEBRUARY 11, 2021

Emirates Airlines has suspended flights from Lagos and Abuja airports to Dubai until February 28.

In a statement via its website, the airline said flights from Dubai to Nigeria will continue to operate as scheduled.

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) recently placed a 72-hour suspension on Emirates flights from Nigeria over violation of travel guidelines put in place by the presidential taskforce on COVID-19.

The ban was lifted after the carrier agreed to withdraw the rapid antigen testing done prior to the departure flights from Nigeria.

“In line with government directives, passenger services from Nigeria (Lagos and Abuja) to Dubai are temporarily suspended until February 28, 2021,” the statement reads.

“Customers from both Abuja and Lagos will not be accepted for travel prior to or including this date.

“Passengers who have been to or connected through Nigeria in the last 14 days are not allowed entry into the UAE (whether terminating in or connecting through Dubai).

“Emirates flights from Dubai to Lagos and Abuja will continue to operate as per the normal schedule. We regret the inconvenience caused, and affected customers should contact their booking agent or contact the Emirates call centre for rebooking.”

Air Ticket Sales Dropped By $132m in Q1 2020 - DAILY TRUST

FEBRUARY 11, 2021

By Abdullateef Aliyu

Airlines ticket sales in Nigeria declined by $132 million in the first quarter of 2020 with a total of $151.09 million revenue made compared to $282.35m sales recorded in the previous year, a data from the National Association of Nigerian Travel Agencies (NANTA), has shown.

The data titled, "BSP Nigeria-R&S Monthly Reports-Market Data April 2020" showed that $57.79m worth of tickets were sold in January 2019 alone.

Ticket sales figures for February of the same year stood at $51.52m; March recorded $80.55m; April $92.59m bringing the total to $286.36m.

But in January 2020, travel agents made a huge sale of $70.03m regarded as the best performance in the industry with unprecedented high demand.

February 2020 saw ticket sales of $59.16m; March figure stood at $23.26m when the COVID-19 pandemic hit the industry with countries imposing travel restrictions.

In April 2020, there was a sharp decline in travels with BSP (Billing Settlement Platform) recording a $-1.36 deficit, indicating that the platform recorded more refunds than sales. The total tickets sold for first quarter 2020 decreased to $151m.

Speaking with newsmen on Tuesday, President of NANTA, Mrs. Susan Akporiaye noted that COVID-19 brought the entire sector to a halt.

She said January 2020 was one of the best months for aviation because of huge sales made by foreign carriers but the gains were reversed by the unexpected COVID-19 pandemic.

"Surprisingly, January 2020 was the best month for aviation in Nigeria in recent years. January of every year is usually very difficult for travel. First quarter is usually slow for business but January 2020 was a windfall followed by the month of February. After March 2020, the industry took a tumble for the worst because of COVID-19".


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