Travel News

Flights halted and cars banned as snow silences Istanbul - REUTERS

JANUARY 25, 2022

ISTANBUL, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Flights were suspended for a second day at Istanbul Airport and private vehicles were barred from city streets on Tuesday, as heavy snowfall snarled traffic and left people stranded in Turkey's biggest city and across the country.

Snowfall began late last week and picked up in recent days in the city of 16 million people. Footage from the airport, among the world's largest, showed runways covered in a thick blanket of snow with aircraft and vehicles barely visible.

Istanbul Governor Ali Yerlikaya took the rare step of banning private cars until 1000 GMT (1 p.m. local) as emergency teams cleaned up streets, while many public workers were granted administrative leave to keep commutes to a minimum.

A video posted on social media showed a man skiing through city streets late on Monday, with people waving as he passed. Far away in Turkey's south, snow fell on the beaches of the resort city of Antalya for the first time in 29 years.

Istanbul Airport said on its website that flight operations had been suspended until 1000 GMT on Tuesday due to adverse weather conditions. Flag-carrier Turkish Airlines (THYAO.IS) said on Monday it had cancelled all flights from the airport.

Footage shared by the governor showed trucks and cars stranded along highways in and around the city. read more

Istanbul Mayor Ekrem Imamoglu said 55,000 tonnes of salt had been used on roads and he called on Turks to clear snow in front of homes and shops to help emergency teams.

"We hope that if we overcome tonight with measures as well, we won't have any problems left. May God protect everyone," he said while visiting a salt facility.

Across the country some 4,600 people were left stranded on roads and elsewhere, and thousands had been placed in temporary housing, the Disaster and Emergency Authority said.

Reporting by Ezgi Erkoyun and Tuvan Gumrukcu; Writing by Jonathan Spicer; Editing by Michael Perry and Ed Osmond

Autogas: FG to convert 200,000 vehicles, plans 580 refueling centres - PUNCH

JANUARY 25, 2022

BY  Okechukwu Nnodim

• Promises 50% infrastructural support to oil marketers

The Federal Government on Monday met with oil marketers in the downstream sector to perfect plans for the full deployment of autogas in filling stations and the conversion of 200,000 commercial vehicles to run on gas this year.

At the meeting, which was convened in Abuja by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Chief Timipre Sylva, the government unveiled the 2022 Framework for the deployment of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas, popularly called autogas) in Nigeria.

Senior officials of the Major Oil Marketers Association of Nigeria, Depot And Petroleum Products Marketers Association of Nigeria, as well as other key players in the downstream sector attended the meeting.

Sylva told his guests that the government was out to ensure that it made available the alternatives required before the removal of subsidy on Premium Motor Spirit (petrol), stressing that the deployment of autogas was one of such key alternatives.

He also stated that the government would be supporting them with 50 per cent of the conversion kits to fast-track the process, adding that additional support as required would be given, going forward.

“We said we must provide alternative fuel and the alternative that we concluded on was the autogas alternative. To provide it for our people,” he stated.

He added, “Since this agreement between us (government and marketers), a lot of work has been going on and we have come to a certain point where we need to take it further. But we cannot move further without ensuring that you as our partners are fully on board.”

In the framework, the government explained that with abundant gas reserves of about 206.53 trillion cubic feet, a population of about 200 million people, and the enactment of the Petroleum Industry Act, which eliminated the continuous absorption of petrol subsidy, it was now vital to deploy autogas.

It stated that its priority now was the rapid and strategic introduction of Natural Gas Vehicles as an alternative fuel for transportation in Nigeria in line with the approved National Gas Policy.

“This will pave the pathway to full deregulation of the downstream petroleum sector in Nigeria, while reducing the effect of deregulation on transportation costs,” the document read in part.

It added, “The Ministry of Petroleum Resources was charged with the responsibility to provide autogas (LPG, CNG, LNG) as an alternative and competitive fuel for mass transportation

“CNG was selected as the fuel of choice because it holds a comparative advantage due to its ease of deployment, its comparatively lower capital requirements, commodity’s supply stability, existing in-country volumes, and local market commercial structure which relies predominantly on the naira.

“Hence a single track CNG deployment is proposed in the initial phase and other alternatives can be considered as the market attains maturity.”

Three implementation options were highlighted in the document, as the government stated that in the first option, its target was to convert one million public transport vehicles and install 1,000 refueling centres within 36 months.

For the first 18 months it targets to achieve 500,000 conversions and 580 refueling centres supplied by five Original Equipment Manufacturers, among other targets.

In the plan, the government targets to convert 200,000 commercial vehicles this year, including tricycles, cars, mini-buses and large buses.

The cities captured in Phase 1 of the project include Abuja, Kaduna, Kano, Kogi, Kwara, Lagos, Ondo, Oyo, Edo, Delta, Bayelsa, Niger, and Rivers.

Cities under Phase 2 were listed as Sokoto, Katsina, Jigawa, Borno, Bauchi, Gombe, Yobe, Osun, Ekiti, Enugu, Anambra, Imo, Cross River, Abia, Akwa Ibom and Plateau. For Phase 3 cities, they were listed as Kebbi, Zamfara, Yobe, Gombe, Taraba, Adamawa, Benue and Ebonyi

On the selection criteria for network operators, the government stated that the marketer must own and/or operate a minimum of 21 stations nationwide.

The dealer must own and/or operate a minimum of five stations in each proposed city and must be willing to demonstrate creditworthiness and the ability to pay back within the stipulated timeframe.

The Executive Secretary, MOMAN, Clement Isong, told the minister that marketers were willing to partner with the government and expressed delight in the government’s resolve to support marketers with 50 per cent of the required conversion kits.

Exodus of doctors: Extension of retirement age to the rescue - VANGUARD

JANUARY 25, 2022

By Chioma Obinna

The exodus of Nigerian medical doctors to other countries for what they described as ‘’greener pastures’’ has continued for decades.

This has led to an acute shortage of health professionals in the nation’s health sector.

Reports have shown that about two-thirds of Nigerian doctors who leave the country end up practising medicine in foreign countries while some of them switch professions.

It is no longer news that apart from the medical doctors, other healthcare professionals such as the nurses, pharmacists among others are also leaving the country for overseas practice, thereby depleting number of professionals in the sector.

Recently, data from the Medical and Dental Consultants Association of Nigeria, MDCAN, had revealed that over 139 Consultants left 17 hospitals within two years. Sadly, no state is spared with the North having a larger proportion among these centres.

The number is about 10 per cent of the actual figure all over the country.

The MDCAN data also showed that the total number of doctors that have migrated to the UK in two years were nearly 9,000 while the total in the United States, US, is about 3,895.

The data in the MDCAN archive added that Saudi Arabia and Canada are competing seriously with UK and USA.  Even South Africa is in the forefront of enticing health workers into its health system. Findings have also shown that about 344 are in Trinidad and Tobago.

Also, there are over 8,000 nurses that have left for the US and UK within the last two years.

In Lagos alone, an average of two doctors per  hospital is leaving every three months, while nurses are leaving monthly.

According to the National President of the MDCAN, Dr Victor Makanjuola, the mass migration has caused significant disruptions to the Nigerian healthcare ecosystem.

Another survey conducted by the Nigeria Health Watch and NOI Polls showed that Nigeria has a deficit of qualified doctors and needs at least 237,000 doctors to ensure the population’s health needs are adequately catered.   It also showed that 88 per cent of doctors are considering work opportunities abroad due to reasons such as better facilities, work environment, higher salaries, career progression and improved quality of life.

With a population of over 200 million, one doctor in Nigeria attends to over 5,000 patients compared to the World Health Organisation, WHO, recommendation of one doctor per 600 patients, the situation has continued to put the health of Nigerians at risk.  

The worst hit, are Nigerians in the rural areas as over 70 per cent of the medical doctors practice in urban areas, leaving the rural areas where  majority  reside.

Today, the country is faced with ‘‘brain drain’’ syndrome, and this has plagued the country for years now. For Nigeria to combat brain drain in the health sector as well as provide quality services for the populace, the situation ought to be reversed urgently with practical and effective policy.

For a country faced with several disease outbreaks including coronavirus, Lassa fever, Bird Flu, malaria, Maternal and infant mortality, cholera, and the health system near collapse, losing more health workers to developed countries becomes double jeopardy.

The nation’s health system is also afflicted by several factors such as underfunding, dilapidated infrastructure, underpaid professionals among others.

These may be the reasons the federal government is trying to hold down the older medical professionals who are unlikely to leave easily through its decision to grant new retirement age for workers in the sector.

Unfortunately, government has failed to address the implementation of the upward review of the retirement age of health workers which has further heightened irreversible damage to the nation’s health security.

According to the Minister of Labour and Employment, Dr. Chris Ngige, under the new condition of service, the retirement age of health workers will be increased from 60 years to 65 years while the retirement age for medical consultants is placed at 70 years.

When this extension of the retirement age for health workers is implemented, it would help replace the younger medical professionals and other health workers who are leaving in droves.  It will also reverse medical and health workers training which has almost collapsed in Nigeria.

The retirement age extension should be based on the fact that the older professionals and more experienced hands are unlikely to leave the country and more likely to remain in service to continue offering services to the system as younger doctors and other health workers are leaving in droves.

Again, these categories of health workers serve as the backbone to ensure that quality service is reasonably sustained.

The older professionals also serve as a last resort when the chips are down. They do not only help continue training but also provide rare clinical expertise. Their absence or exit will finally collapse the hospitals,

Covid-19 - Nigerian Students' Enrollment in America Drops By 7% Over Vaccination Protocol - PREMIUM TIMES

JANUARY 26, 2022

By Qosim Suleiman

A total of 12,860 Nigerian students enrolled in American colleges in the 2020/2021 academic year, 902 or 6.6 per cent down from 13,762 students in the 2019/2020 academic year, the report noted.

A new research has shown that the population of Nigerian students' enrollment in American universities between 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic calendar sessions has reduced by not less than seven per cent.

The research, conducted by Erudera, an educational search platform, suggests the development could be linked to the requirement for full vaccination against the coronavirus pandemic for both staff and students in most universities in the United States of America before being part of on-campus activities.

The research states in part; "Higher education experts believe that one of the main reasons for this decline may be the implementation of vaccines in colleges."

According to the research, more than 1,000 institutions in the United States, a choice destination for Nigerian students willing to study abroad, are requesting that students be vaccinated against COVID-19.

Many European educational institutions in Germany, Austria, Czechia, Denmark, France, Italy, have also applied similar measures of requesting vaccination certificates or negative tests for the virus.

Slight decline

The United States attracts more than one million international students, making it one of the most popular destinations for international students across the world.

While Nigeria remains at the top of the list of African students in United States' colleges and universities, there has been a considerable decline in the number of students between 2019/2020 and 2020/2021 academic year.

According to the 2021 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, Nigeria is the 10th highest source of international students in the U.S. behind China, India, South Korea, Canada, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brazil and Mexico.

A total of 12,860 Nigerian students enrolled in American colleges in the 2020/2021 academic year, 902 or 6.6 per cent down from 13,762 students in the 2019/2020 academic year.

The number had been on the rise for, at least, the past 10 years before the latest decline.

Erudera noted that the decline could be a result of "the implementation of vaccines in colleges."

Institutions requiring vaccination

Erudera listed some of the top schools in the U.S. requiring COVID-19 vaccination evidence to include; Princeton University, Stanford University, Yale University, Columbia University, New York University, University of Chicago, University of Washington, Michigan State University, Ohio State University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of California, among over a thousand others.

Various schools in Austria, Belgium, Czechia, Denmark, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, and Switzerland have also instituted such a policy.

However, only two Canadian Universities, St. John's College -University of Manitoba and University of Ottawa require COVID-19 vaccine or a negative result.

Vaccination rate

According to Our World in Data, 60.3 per cent of the world population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. 9.82 billion doses have been administered globally, and 28.95 million are now administered each day.

However, only 9.4 per cent of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose. In Nigeria, only 6.6 per cent has received at least one dose and 2.5 per cent of the estimated 200 million population has been fully vaccinated.

At least 97 per cent of Harvard University and University of Pennsylvania's employees and 96 per cent of students are already vaccinated against COVID-19.

Yale reports its vaccination rates as 99.5 per cent of undergraduate students; 98.2 per cent of graduate and professional students; 96.5 per cent of faculty, and 92.7 per cent of staff.

No Nigerian university has made vaccination compulsory but the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC), a one-year compulsory scheme for Nigerian graduates below the age of 30, has mandated all prospective corps members to get vaccinated or they would be denied entry into orientation camps across the country.

The Nigerian Government and Edo State Government, in particular, have also mandated vaccination on all civil servants, denying unvaccinated staff entries into their offices.

NCAA Grants Approval For Anambra Airport To Operate Boeing 737-700 Aircraft - INDEPENDENT

JANUARY 26, 2022

The Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) has granted the Anambra State Government the approval to operate Boeing 737-700 aircraft or its equivalent at the Anambra International Cargo and Passenger Airport, Umueri.

Chief Willie Obiano, the state governor disclosed this on Monday after receiving a letter from the agency.

He said the approval was based on a satisfactory inspection carried out by aerodrome safety inspectors at the airport on the 21st of January, 2022 to ascertain the preparedness of the airport for the upgrade in fire cover from Cat 5 to Cat 6.

Diaspora Group, IPIAD To Build $2.5bn City For American Returnees In Nigeria - INDEPENDENT

JANUARY 26, 2022

The African Diaspora Development Institute ADDI is partnering International Property Investment and Development IPIAD, a Nigeria based tourism development firm to build a $2.5 billion major 5-star mixed-use business, leisure and historical destination resort in Bonny, Rivers state. 

The aim is to bring back to Nigeria, African descendants who were sold into slavery all over the world. 

The project being championed by IPIAD, ADDI and other foreign partners is aimed at attracting back African-Americans who want to relocate to Nigeria or re-discover their ancestral roots, families, kingdoms and villages in Nigeria. 

A statement issued in Abuja after receiving officials of ADDI, the President of IPIAD, Prince Kalada William-Jumbo, said the first phase of the proposed TUSONDEL City project was estimated to cost $2.5 billion and over a period of 10 years expected to attract investments of around $10 billion. 

Prince William-Jumbo noted that African Diaspora Development Institute ADDI recently concluded a successful ground breaking of a similar project referred to as “Wakanda City of return” in Cape Coast, Ghana which attracted a lot of Africans in the diaspora to come back home to Ghana/Africa. 

On the choice of Rivers state as the location, William-Jumbo who is also a member of the ADDI advisory board said; “Bonny Kingdom is one of the oldest, richest and most famous of all the Kingdoms in the region and like its land, its history is also very rich and old, but not without controversy and pain. 

“Historically, Bonny Kingdom was a major strategic trading and economic hub hundreds of years ago. A centre for learning, commerce and trade, and still is till this day. At the peak of Bonny Kingdom’s reign, between the 19th to early 20th century, the people of Bonny and the extended Niger Delta Kingdoms in general, also participated in the dreadful but at that time, very lucrative business of slave trading.”

Over 40,000 sign petition to stop foreign institutions from demanding IELTS - THE NATION

JANUARY 27, 2022

Over 40,000 have signed a petition to stop foreign institutions from demanding an English proficiency test, the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) from Nigerians.

Checks by The Nation show the petition on change.org titled “Stop asking Nigerians to write IELTS” has 40,668 signatures as at the time of filing this report.

IELTS is one of the world’s known English language tests for work, study and migration. It is an international standardised test of English language proficiency.

Annually, thousands of young Nigerian migrants take IELTS tests physically in different locations all over Nigeria as part of the requirements to secure admissions into universities overseas or work abroad.

The Nation learnt the test costs over N80,000 per time and expires after two years.

One has to re-sit if they have not been successful with their applications for UK scholarships.

But many Nigerians lamented that they had lost several opportunities because they could not afford the high cost of the test despite having tertiary education in English language.

Many social media users have taken to Twitter to proffer logical requests with the hashtag — #ReformIELTSPolicy topping Twitter trendsmap.

Some of the requests include cancellation of two-year expiry clause, including Nigeria in the UKVI exemption list, reducing test cost and increasing validity period .

The founder of Policy Shapers, Ebenezar Wikina, said: “Nigeria is not a French-speaking country but if a Nigerian writes DELF for N16,000, the result is valid for life but despite being an English-speaking country, I have to write IELTS for N89,500 and my result expires in 2 years Do the math! #ReformIELTSPolicy #IELTS #TOEFL.”

Another user, Samuel Ajayi said: “I join Nigerians asking for a change in IELTS policy. Why should my English proficiency expire after 2yrs? I heard the French proficiency test does not expire & it’s way cheaper than IELTS Help spread this till they respond. It’s a win for all. @UKinNigeria #ReformIELTSPolicy”

Jacob Sule advised: “Dear Ambassador, To further strengthen the partnership between Nigeria and UK, I join fellow Nigerians in solidarity to say #ReformIELTSPolicy, As you know, english is our official language. Therefore, the 2yrs validity of the #IELTS & it’s subsequent expiration is no longer acceptable.”

US Issues Travel Warning, Says Kidnappers Targeting Dual Citizens - LEADERSHIP

JANUARY 27, 2022

United States has issued an alert to its citizens against travelling to Nigeria warning them of a threat by Nigerian kidnappers who now target citizens with dual nationalities.

This was contained in the US State Department’s Nigeria Travel Advisory dated January 4, 2022, stressing that the US citizens perceived to be wealthy are at greater risk of being kidnapped.

The alert also mentioned some states US citizens should not travel to or stay vigilant when visiting saying, “Violent crime such as armed robbery, assault, carjacking, kidnapping, hostage-taking, banditry, and rape is common throughout the country.

“Kidnappings for ransom occur frequently, often targeting dual national citizens who have returned to Nigeria for a visit, as well as U.S. citizens with perceived wealth. Kidnapping gangs have also stopped victims on interstate roads.”

According to the Advisory, the northern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa are among the states the US citizens were warned to stay away from.

“The security situation in these states is fluid and unpredictable due to widespread terrorist activity, inter-communal violence, and kidnapping. Security operations to counter these threats may occur without warning.

“Terrorist groups based in the Northeast routinely target humanitarian camps, security forces, churches, schools, mosques, government installations, educational institutions, entertainment venues, and road travelers,” the Advisory said.

Other northern states that came under the travel alert include; Bauchi, Gombe, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, and Zamfara following roadside banditry and unexpected counter-attacks from security agencies.

The US also warned that the threat of kidnapping and violence extended to  the southern parts of Nigeria, listing coastal areas such as Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, and Rivers states (with the exception of Port Harcourt) as places US citizens should avoid travelling to.

“Crime is rampant throughout Southern Nigeria, and there is a heightened risk of kidnapping and maritime crime, especially in the Gulf of Guinea. Violent civil unrest and armed militancy persist in these areas,” the advisory warned.

167 Nigerians Repatriated From Libya - DAILY TRUST

JANUARY 27, 2022

A batch of 167 stranded Nigerians in Libya have been repatriated to the country.

They arrived in the country in the late hours of Tuesday at the Murtala Muhammad International Airport (MMIA), Lagos.

The returnees comprised of 65 adult females, eight female children, 76 male adults and 18 male children.

Director General of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Alhaji Mustapha Habib, who received them, advised the youth to look beyond seeking greener pastures in foreign lands.

The DG, who was represented by the NEMA Lagos Territorial Office Coordinator, Ibrahim Farinloye, urged the returnees to look inward towards making the best use of abundant resources abound in Nigeria.

UAE reopens entry to passengers from Nigeria, 11 other African countries - THE NATION

JANUARY 27, 2022

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) yesterday announced the resumption of entry for passengers from Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Congo, South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe, from Saturday.

The travel updates were announced by the National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA).

The authority also announced updated entry procedures for passengers coming from Uganda, Ghana and Rwanda.

Passengers coming from these countries must now present a negative COVID-19 PCR test certificate with a QR code for a test conducted at an approved facility no more than 48 hours before departure.

They also need to present a negative COVID-19 rapid test certificate with a QR code for a test conducted at the departure airport within 6 hours before departure, and conduct a PCR test upon arrival.


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