Travel News

Lagos excites CBN with Blue, Red train modal option - THE NATION

JUNE 02, 2022


Lagos State Government has assured that the fixed stock of Blue and Red Rail infrastructure will be ready by quarter four this year, with commercial operation starting by first quarter 2023. ADEYINKA ADERIBIGBE writes

It’s usually hard to find the central bank of any nation excited, when monitoring efficiency of disbursed loans.

But last week, leader of the team ,Yusuf Phillip Yila, along with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) echelon on tour of projects for which it syndicated a N160 billion loan to get the two Lagos State’s rail projects off the ground, was much more so.

Yila, the Director of Development Finance, beamed a smile that soon caught on with his colleagues, who  promised to return when the project is completed, and ride on the two train systems.

They were at home with the Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA),  Mrs. Abimbola Akinajo, who assured that fixed infrastructure for the first phases of the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) Blue and Red lines, would be inaugurated by the fourth quarter of the year, with commercial operations taking off first quarter 2023.

Mrs Akinajo, a mechanical engineer, with experience in the United Kingdom Metro train construction and development, had exuded confidence last Thursday, as she, Yila, and his team went round the projects.

Mrs Akinajo, who received the team, made up of the Director of Risk Management Dr Blaise Ijebor, the Director of Strategy Management, Mr Clement Buari, and other top officials of a consortium of banks financing the two projects said the projects have achieved 60 per cent completion. She was confident that the contractor, Messrs China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation (CCECC), would not disappoint on the delivering the world-class projects.

Akinajo said projects of this size are executed in phases, assuring the CBN team that once the first phase was completed, the government would begin work on the final phase of the project.

Addressing the security of passengers and rail infrastructure, Mrs. Akinajo said the government was engaging security agencies to protect its assets as well as provide security to passengers and others plying the stations.

She said: “We would have closed circuit cameras installed around our stations to pick up any strange activities. It is a multi-faceted approach we are taking to security to ensure the security of all our people as well as our assets,” Mrs. Akinajo stated.

The LAMATA chief said both lines, when fully on stream, would provide modal alternative to about two million Lagosians who are expected to use the two rail lines, and that the integrated signalling of the lines have been calibrated to carry passengers from the stations every three minutes, and this can be further recalibrated if there are pressure to increase the frequency of the train service.

While the Red Line – Agbado to Oyingbo – would run on Diesel Motor Unit (DMU), the Red Line – Mile 2 to Marina – will run on Electric Motor Unit (EMU).

She said the agency would soon begin serious advocacy on the Mile 2 – Marina line because of its risk to life once it fully takes off, to protect them against the risk of electrocution as a result of the high voltage that would pass through the corridor, which is out at a minimum of 700MW.

On the Red Line, she said the eight railway stations on the corridor were at various stages of completion, adding that at most sites, the form works – were at advanced stages of completion.

The stations on the Red Line are to be sited at Oyingbo, Yaba, Mushin, Ikeja, Agege, Iju and Agbado, and Oshodi, which would be integrated with the  multi-level transit interchange at the sprawling transit hub, while the Blue Line is to have five stations – at Mile 2, Alaba, Iganmu, National Theatre and Marina, which would be a transit interchange.

She said four of the stations on the Blue Line corridor were at 98 percent completion.

At the Ikeja Train Station for instance, a fly over bridge measuring one million metres, the length is being constructed, with 700 metres that takes off from the Ikeja Along Bus Stop to Medical Road Junction, while another 300 metres long flyover begins from Computer Village, terminating at Anifowoshe Junction inner Ikeja, with the intention of taking human and vehicular impact off the level crossing at Ikeja.

Nigerian Carrier To Operate Air Sierra Leone - DAILY TRUST

JUNE 02, 2022

By  Abdullateef Aliyu

A Nigerian carrier, Xejet Limited and the Government of the Republic of Sierra Leone have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to operate regional and international flights from Lungi International Airport, Freetown.

Daily Trust reports that the Government of Sierra Leone and Xejet have been in discussions for some time now.

The airline and the country have now agreed that the company may establish and operate a national carrier for the Republic of Sierra Leone, a statement by the airline hinted.

The parties further agreed to work together to successfully execute the project to international standards.

Xejet, a newly launched Nigerian startup carrier, got the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) early this year after about seven years of starting the AOC journey.

The MoU was signed by the Minister of Transport and Aviation, Hon. Kabineh M.  Kallon on behalf of the government and Emmanuel Iza for Xejet in the presence of Dr.  Rex Idaminabo (Consulting Associate) and Mr.  Floyd Davis, Deputy Director, SLCAA.

In attendance at the signing ceremony from the ministry of transport and aviation were,  Mr.  Rex Bhonapha (Deputy Minister), the ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Alhassan Kondeh, Dr Adams Steven (Technical Adviser), Mr  Hindolo Shiaka  (Director of  Transport)  and  Mr.  Macmond Kallon, Policy Coordinator, OPII-State House.

Xejet  Aviation was set up to provide air transport services in the areas of passenger,  cargo,  aircraft maintenance,  and aviation training. 

Bank customers to produce indemnity for online transfers above N1m – CBN - PUNCH

JUNE 02, 2022

BY  Nike Popoola

The Central Bank of Nigeria has ordered banks and Payment Service Providers to accept indemnity from customers for highly secured online funds transfers.

It stated this in a circular signed by the Director, Payments System Management Department, Musa Jimoh, with the reference number: PSM/DIR/PUB/CIR/01/006, titled ‘Circular on the review of operations of the NIBSS Instant Payments System and other electronic payment options with similar features’, which was released on Thursday.

The circular stated that “Further to the circular on the above reference BSP/DIR/GEN/CIR/01/011 and dated August 13, 2014, banks are hereby required to comply with the following:

“Accept indemnity from customers for highly secured online funds transfer above N1m for individual and N10m for corporate, subject to a maximum of N25m (individual) and N250m (corporate).

“Provide customers with the option of electronic or paper indemnity based on the customer’s preference.

“Implement electronic indemnity with stricter controls requiring biometric verification of identify.

“Adhere to multiple factor authentication for highly secured online funds transfer.

“Inform and educate customers on the use of indemnity to increase transaction limits where possible.”

The CBN also released another guideline titled ‘Guidelines for the registration & operation of Bank Neutral Cash Hubs in Nigeria’.

It stated in the guidelines that BNCHs were cash collection centers to be established by registered (licensed) processing companies or Deposit Money Banks based on business needs.

The CBN said the hubs would be located in areas with high volumes of commercial activities and cash transactions.

It further stated that the hubs would provide a platform for customers to make cash deposits and receive value irrespective of the bank with which their account is domiciled.

“This guideline aims to provide minimum standards and requirements for BNCH registration and operations for effective supervision,” the CBN stated.

According to the CBN, the key objective of setting up the BNCH was to reduce the risks and cost borne by banks, merchants and huge cash handlers in the course of cash management activities; deepen financial inclusion, and leverage on shared services to enhance cash management efficiency.

The CBN said the BNCH’s duties included receipt of naira denominated deposits on behalf of financial institutions from individuals and businesses with high volumes of cash; disbursement of naira- denominated withdrawals on behalf of financial institutions to individuals and businesses with high volumes of cash, and any other activities that might be permitted by the apex bank.

UK Flying Taxi Maker Partners With Airport Owner in Brazil - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 03, 2022

(Bloomberg) -- UK electric flying taxi startup Vertical Aerospace Ltd. said it is partnering with Corporacion America Airports to explore and design so-called vertiports as well as other infrastructure in Brazil for the operation of its aircraft. 

Vertical said the new partnership, along with its existing tieups with jet-lessor Avolon Holdings Ltd. and Brazil’s largest carrier Gol Linhas Aéreas Inteligentes SA, will help get infrastructure ready for Brazil to be one of “pioneering markets” for flying taxi services. 

Read More: No, Really, Flying Taxis Are Getting Closer to Giving You Rides

Vertical is betting big on Brazil, where Sao Paulo is the world’s busiest city for helicopter flights because traffic snarl-ups typically block hundreds of miles of road. Electrically-powered flying taxis are being touted as eco-friendly replacements for helicopters, and a plethora of manufacturers are currently in the process of getting their aircraft certified and finalizing plans for their associated infrastructure. 

In September, Gol agreed in September to buy or rent as many as 250 VX4s from leasing company Avolon. Vertical also has outline deals with American Airlines, Japan Airlines, and Virgin Atlantic to introduce services by 2025.

Nigeria, Canada to strengthen bilateral ties - THE GUARDIAN

JUNE 03, 2022

The Canadian government has announced plans to strengthen its trade relationship with Nigeria in its bid to boost both economies’ oil and gas sectors.

The second Secretary Commercial and Trade Commissioner, Deputy Commission of Canada to Nigeria, Sonia Hukil, at a one-day seminar and webinar on the subject of “Scale inhibitor: Application and Monitoring organised by Pacegate Energy and Resources Limited, said that the priority of the Canadian government is to seek areas of collaboration to strengthen oil and gas trade between both countries.

According to her, the passage of the Petroleum Industry Act (PIA) into law, presents lots of investment opportunities for many Canadian oil and gas firms to invest in the country.

She pointed out that the volume of trade, which had hit over $1.2 billion, presents lots of potential for collaboration and opportunities for Nigeria and Canada.

In her words: “With respect to the oil and gas sector specifically, there is a lot of potential for collaboration between the two countries, the natural resources and servicing the extractive industry is an important part of our bilateral partnership. Canada needs Nigerian oil and Nigeria is seeking Canada’s oil and gas technology as well as its equipment.”

She added that Nigeria presents a very important market, stressing that it holds plenty of commercial opportunities in both the upstream and the downstream sectors.

“As Canada’s largest training partner in Africa, as well as the largest investor into Canada from the region. Nigeria is already one of Canada’s most important economic partners in Africa. As many of you are aware, the oil and gas industry is a key economic driver for Canada. Upstream and downstream activities are growing at a rapid pace. Globally, Canada is recognised as a leader in oil and gas production, being the fourth-largest producer of crude oil and the fifth largest producer of natural gas,” she stated.

Hukil also added that Canada is an important hub for innovation in the oil and gas sector, with Canadian research institutions working closely with foreign investors across the range of innovative technologies.

“As of 2020, Nigeria has the 9th largest global oil and gas reserves and one of the biggest reserves in Africa. The oil and gas sector is instrumental to measure the economy. Making up over 90 percent of exports and 80 per cent of government revenues. Even though it is a tough market, opportunities like the PIA by the Nigerian government present themselves as lucrative partner to many Canadian firms. We are working to encourage Canadian companies to engage more proactively in non-traditional countries like Nigeria, just given the immense amount of opportunities that exist here,” she noted.

Earlier, the Supply Chain Director, CES Energy Solutions, Mihir Patel, said partnerships and sustainability are key to achieving better results in difficult terrain.

Highlighting steps for customers on how to navigate the supply chain market, Patel advocated for vendor selection, saying that it is critical to the security of supply and business continuity, adding that customers must work with companies with surplus working capital.

“They must understand key drivers, plus supply and demand that impact product pricing, create flexibility in supply contracts to manage today’s nuances,” he said.

Despite delays, ministry insists on July take-off date for Nigeria Air - THE GUARDIAN

JUNE 03, 2022

Apparently unfazed by multiple delays in the buildup schedule, the Ministry of Aviation has said that the new national carrier will fly by July 2022.

The reassurance, made to The Guardian, was despite the non-readiness of the Air Operator’s Certificate (AOC) and the Air Transport Licence (ATL), coupled with the ongoing search for bidders to drive the public-private venture – about a month to the July date.

Recall that the ministry had early this month extended the bidding process by one month, now ending on June 10.

Special Assistant to the Minister of Aviation, Dr. James Odaudu, said the July date remains sacrosanct as the interim management of the airline was busy working to ensure the take-off on schedule.

Odaudu explained that the one-month extension of the bidding process was in lieu of requests made by bidders and potential off-takers.

“Yes, people are wondering if we will still keep to the July date. Sure, the date remains and the extension will not affect the starting date because there is interim management in place to hand the airline over to the bidder once the process has been completed. We remain on course,” he said.

Since 2018, the opening date for the proposed national airline has been postponed several times. Stakeholders are worried that the minister is in a haste to egg on “a hard-sell” at the twilight of the current administration.

Secretary-General of the Aviation Round Table Initiative (ASRTI), Group Capt. John Ojikutu (rtd), said he did not understand the logic of a government that has only a five per cent stake in the project, going ahead to float it when the other 95 per cent shareholders are not ready nor known.

Ojikutu said it suggested more of another government-owned airline than a public-private national carrier, and it would not fly.

The national carrier, already christened Nigeria Air, was to replace the defunct Nigeria Airways which ceased operations in 2003. The replacement was designed as a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the Federal Government owning a marginal stake.

Findings showed that the project has racked up a total of N14.65 billion in appropriation votes between 2019 and 2022. About 40 per cent of the sum (N6.25 billion) has been channelled to working capital, consultancy and transaction advisers’ fees.

At the commencement of the bidding process in March 2022, Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, reaffirmed that the Federal Government would own a five per cent stake in the airline while the general public will own 46 per cent and the international partner airlines take 49 per cent shares.

“I believe that by April (2022), we should be able to have our AOC ready, which means we are ready to start. And once the AOC is in our hands, the offices are secured, the interim board is being constituted, and when they finish signing the contract, we will announce who they are.

“Currently, they are called interim because they will hold the airline on an interim basis up to the time the investors will come and take over. The interim members are noble people, some are Nigerians, and some are not. I think there are about nine of them running the airline and they will begin operations between now and July,” the minister had said.

A stakeholder, who did not want to be mentioned, said the “noble initiative” began with wrong footings and had continued in errors that naturally discredit its merits.

“We live in a country where nobody can trust politicians or the government. The reason is simple, you can easily pick holes in their claims. Who starts an airline first and then begins to search for bidders? We have been at this junction since 2018. What is the hurry all about in this season of politics? If it is another political dummy, it will not fly,” he said.

‘FAAN relocating foreign carriers to new terminal in phases’ - THE NATION

JUNE 03, 2022

The Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) has said it is relocating foreign airlines at the Murtala Muhammed International Airport (MMIA), Lagos to the new terminal in phases.

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Its Managing Director, Captain Rabiu Yadudu, said thid yesterday.

At an interactive session at the Lagos Airport, Yadudu said FAAN was working hard to get the facility ready before major foreign carriers would move in.

He said some of the airlines were reluctant to use the new facility, affirming that FAAN will compel time when the time is ripe.

Yadudu said FAAN was getting worried that the same carriers, which continue to complain about the old facility’s baggage systems and other epileptic facilities, yet are foot bragging to utilise the new terminal.

He said the authority has stepped up security at the airside of many airports with the deployment of the motorised patrol vehicles fitted with long-range cameras.

Besides, he said the authority has also ramped up manual security patrol at the airside with specific directive for personnel not to get involved in authorised movement at the airside after sunset.

Such directive, Yadudu said, has been communicated to the relevant unit and the punishment to be met out to violators and other associated acted infractions.

Britons to Face More Airport Misery and Tube Strike - BLOOMBERG

JUNE 04, 2022

(Bloomberg) --

UK travelers are bracing for further widespread disruption as airports and roads struggle to cope with a surge in people returning from Jubilee weekend getaways and London Tube workers head out on strike.

Lengthy queues are expected at airport passport controls while roads will be clogged with 19 million drivers expected to get behind the wheel over the weekend, according to the Automobile Association. Talks aimed at avoiding a strike by London’s subway station staff collapsed with a walkout looming on Monday.

“We will keep as many stations as possible open, but we expect that this strike will cause severe disruption and the closure of many Tube stations,” Transport for London said in a statement, adding commuters should avoid traveling.

Britons have been enjoying a four-day weekend for Queen Elizabeth’s platinum Jubilee, triggering an exodus to destinations including Dublin and Spanish sun-spots such as Palma de Mallorca. Many travelers will return home on Sunday, testing the capacity of road networks and airports’ ability to process arrivals.

Disruption on Sunday and Monday would be the latest headache for British travelers after the Easter holiday led to delays on the rail, road and air travel networks. For Londoners, the Tube strike means disruption will spill over to Tuesday.

“We expect the severe disruption caused by this strike to continue into the morning of Tuesday 7 June and I’m sorry for the impact this will have on people’s journeys next week,” Transport for London’s Chief Operating Officer Andy Lord said in a statement.

Having let go of staff during coronavirus lockdowns, airports and airlines have struggled to hire sufficient workers to return to full capacity. Gatwick Airport has in excess of 40% fewer direct employees than it did before the pandemic started. Easyjet Plc has shed around 10% of its workers over that period.

Ryanair Holdings Plc Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary called for help from British military personnel to help deal with the disruption. 

“Bringing in the army, which they do at many other European airports, would, at a stroke, relieve the pressure on airport security and would mean that people have a much better experience -- not just this weekend, but for each weekend over the next three, four months,” he told ITV News. 

Meanwhile, most continental European holiday destinations have returned to normal after the coronavirus pandemic, fueling a surge in demand for travel. More than 10,000 flights were expected to depart from the UK over the four-day weekend to mark the Jubilee celebrations, over 80% of pre-pandemic levels, according to data from analytics firm Cirium.

Airlines including EasyJet and IAG SA’s British Airways have asked the government to relax its immigration rules for European citizens to help them hire staff. The UK has recorded a loss of European Union nationals due to the combined impact of Brexit and the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many companies with staffing shortages.

“Our colleagues are working tirelessly to process passengers as quickly as possible and we apologize to anyone impacted by recent disruption,” Manchester Airport said in a statement posted to its website.

NAHCON approves three airlines for pilgrims transportation from June 9 - THE GUARDIAN

JUNE 04, 2022

The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria (NAHCON) on Friday in Abuja disclosed that it had concluded arrangements to commence the transportation of 2022 intending pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia on June 9.

The Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of NAHCON, Alhaji Zikrullah Hassan, made the disclosure at the signing of an agreement between the commission and three airlines approved to transport Nigerian pilgrims to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Hassan announced that the three air carriers that were approved by the Federal Government through the commission were the Azman Air, Max Air, and Flynas (Saudi Arabia designated airline).

He urged the airlines to give quality service in line with the standard known in the aviation industry and treat all pilgrims as very important personalities.

Hassan also revealed that by Monday, June 6, the advance team of the commission would be proceeding to the city of Madina and Makkah.

According to him, by the projection of the commission on June 9, the 2022 Hajj inaugural flight of Nigeria will head to Madina.

” For us today is indeed historic because is the beginning of the hajj operation of 2022. It is clear to all of us that without flight there can be no Hajj for people living outside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

” Intending pilgrims must get to Saudi Arabia before they can perform hajj. For that reason, the flight is key and very important.

” Permit me to use this opportunity to congratulate the successful air carriers all of whom have been with the commission struggle since 2022.

” We also hope that those air carriers who didn’t succeed this year will have a better time some other time,” he said.

Earlier, the NAHCON Commissioner of Operations, Alhaji Abdullahi Hardawa, described the event as an epoch after almost three years without Hajj.

He congratulated the successful carriers while urging them to see their selection as a challenge to do their best.

The commission disclosed that the commission had created an aviation monitoring committee saddled with the responsibility of monitoring their performances.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that seven airlines; Max Air, FlyNas, Azman Air, Med-View Airline, Skypower Express, Westlink Airlines, and Arik Air, applied for screening.

After rigorous exercise, those selected ranked the best three whose names were forwarded to the presidency for approval before sealing the contract agreement.

States allocated to specific airlines are as follows: Max Air is to airlift pilgrims from 13 states namely Adamawa, Bauchi, Benue, Borno, Gombe, Jigawa, Katsina, Kogi, Kwara, Nasarawa, Niger, Plateau, and Taraba.

While Azman Air is entrusted with the transportation of pilgrims from 16 states and the Armed Forces.

The states are Kano, Abia, Akwa Ibom, Anambra, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Ebonyi, Ekiti, Enugu, Imo, Kaduna, Ogun, Ondo, Rivers, and Yobe.

Meanwhile, FlyNas would airlift pilgrims from Edo, FCT- Abuja, Lagos, Osun, Oyo, Sokoto, Kebbi, and Zamfara- making eight states.

Abuja second runway ready in 12 Months – Aviation minister - PUNCH

JUNE 04, 2022

BY  Sami Tunji

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, has said that the second runway for the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja will be ready before the end of this tenure in 11 to 12 months’ time.

He said this at the presentation of the certificate of occupancy for the expansion of the Abuja airport runway and other aviation facilities within the airport in Abuja.

The certificate of occupancy was presented to the aviation minister on Friday by the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Mohammed Bello.

Speaking at the event, the aviation minister said the expansion of Abuja as one of the fastest-growing cities globally necessitated the reason for the need to expand the Abuja airport, build a second runway and establish major aviation facilities.

He said that all structures will be done in line with the Abuja master plan and in collaboration with the FCT team.

He also said that apart from the runway, other major facilities will be completed within the remaining time of this regime.

Speaking earlier, the FCT minister said the total number of land allocated for this project is about 12,000 hectares.

He urged the aviation minister to ensure proper supervision and collaboration between the FCT and engineers and workers so that all structures and buildings will follow the due process of the Abuja master plan.

The FCT minister committed to collaborating with the aviation ministry in achieving the aviation road map.


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