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Lagos launches new buses with free service on five routes

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The Lagos State Government on Wednesday launched the new buses under the Bus Reform Initiative (BRI) with free service on five routes, assuring that the development would redefine public transportation and make the State globally competitive.

Specifically, the free service was launched across five routes, including Berger to Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Berger to Oshodi, Oshodi to TBS, Ikeja to Alausa and Ikeja to Oshodi to commemorate the Workers Days, after which normal service is to start on May 2, 2019.

Speaking at Ikeja Bus Terminal, one of the modern terminals constructed as part of the BRI, an official of the Lagos Bus Services Limited, the operator of the buses, Mr Timi Olajide said it was a good thing that the buses have now been finally launched for the use of the people.

He said out of the 5,000 buses planned for the initiative, the government was launching the scheme with 820 high and medium capacity buses, adding that aside the intelligent transport system component of the initiative which will aid Lagosians to plan their journeys, comfort and safety of the people have also been factored into the whole process.

“In each of the buses, we have six emergency exits and First Aid Box, while every seat has a dedicated USB port for charging of phones, free Wi-fi, television and CCTV cameras which are linked to our control centre to monitor everything going on in the buses, among other features.

“We have also taken the issue of people with disabilities specially and there are seats reserved for them in the buses,” Olajide said.

At the Oshodi Transport Interchange, a cross-section of Lagos residents who enjoyed the free service, lauded the State Government especially Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for the buses and the infrastructure provided to support the transport reforms, saying the development was commendable.

A resident, Adewusi Oluwatobi Emmanuel said: “I am very happy to enter this bus today because it is a thing of joy that something like this can happen in Nigeria. I am happy that I can enter a beautiful bus with free Wi-Fi, free USB port, free air-conditioning and so on.

“With this, I know that this country is going to greater heights. One thing I believe we should do is to work together, love ourselves and before we know it, Nigeria will be one of the best countries in the world.”

Another resident, Mr Demola Aleshinloye, said: “This is a lovely idea. I like this development and I want it to be sustained. God bless Nigeria.”

On her part, Mrs Olorunfemi Funmilayo, another resident, said: “I am very grateful to enter this type of bus. When I entered I saw the USB charging port and free Wi-Fi. I so much like this and I pray that Nigeria will be great.”

Also, Mr Adabayo David, said: “This is a great initiative and I believe that if Lagos can get it right, every other State can get it right and I must give kudos to the visionary Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode for this wonderful initiative. Everything is working fine in the bus and as you can see, I’m charging my phone.

“I believe that God will take him (Governor Ambode) to greater heights. Something like this, if it’s well managed, it’s going to last us for a long time and so I must commend our exceptional Governor for this.”

Another commuter, who simply identified himself as Ifeoluwa, said: “Actually, I commend Governor Akinwunmi Ambode for doing a great job in Lagos State. Today, I can say Governor Ambode is still one of the best we have in this State. I love the Governor and the world loves him too. This Oshodi interchange is one of the greatest projects in Africa and I must commend the Governor and the contractor that handled the project.”

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5G: NCC Carries out Successful Mock Auction of 3.5 GHz Spectrum

…Sets Stage for Main Auction on Monday

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The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has successfully carried out a mock session for the 3.5 gigahertz (GHz) spectrum auction for the deployment of the Fifth Generation (5G) network in the country.

In a statement signed by the commission’s Director, Public Affairs, Dr. Ikechukwu Adinde, the simulated auction, which took place on Friday, December 10, 2021 at the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, Abuja, was preparatory to the main auction scheduled to take place on Monday, December 13, 2021 at same venue.

NCC said the conduct of the simulation exercise was in line with the requirements stipulated in the Information Memorandum (IM) for 3.5 GHz spectrum auction. The IM is a document that defines the process for the licensing of the 3.5 GHz spectrum band, earlier published on the Commission’s website at the inception of the auction process.

Using the Ascending Clock Auction System for the mock session, the three qualified bidders for the 3.5 GHz spectrum, namely MTN Nigeria, Mafab Communications Ltd, and Airtel Networks Ltd, participated in the software-based simulated auction exercise.

The mock auction was witnessed by the Chairman, Board of Commissioners, NCC, Prof. Adeolu Akande; the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta; Executive Commissioner, Technical Services, Ubale Maska and the Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu.

Others, who witnessed the mock auction include representatives from the bidding companies, senior management staff from relevant departments of the Commission, technical consultants, software consultants, legal consultants and other external observers.

Following the successful mock auction, the stage is set for the Commission to license two slots in the 3.5 GHz spectrum band, expected to be picked by successful bidders at the end of the Main Auction on Monday, December 13, 2021.

The auction on Monday will mark a turning point in Nigeria’s determination to harness the benefits of 5G for the nation’s socio-economic growth, as concrete roll-out of 5G commences in 2022.

In a brief remark at the Mock Auction, Danbatta said the Commission had taken all necessary steps to ensure due diligence on the credibility of the consultants and to safeguard the integrity of the software solution being used to carry out the implementation of this historic national assignment.

“This is consistent with the open, credible transparent and fair manner by which the Commission is known to have conducted previous auction processes, which have been locally and globally applauded,” Danbatta said.

In order to ensure a fail-proof process, the Commission also carried out a simulation of the manual process of the auction, aside the electronic mock. This is to ensure that bidders are also familiar with the manual auction in case of any circumstances on the Main Auction Day that may warrant a need to switch to the Manual Auction. It is pertinent to note that the two forms – electronic and manual – are clearly stated in the IM and they follow the same process.

Representatives of the bidding companies, the Commission, the consultants and other observers at the Mock Auction expressed satisfaction with the conduct of the simulation exercise, which also provided opportunity for the Commission to perfect the auction process ahead of the Main Auction.

The Commission had commenced the process for the auction of the 5G spectrum in the last quarter of the 2021 and had, since then, carried out a number of activities ahead of the Main Auction.

October 7, 2021, the Commission had published the Draft Information Memorandum (IM) on the auction of the 5G spectrum on its website (www.ncc.gov.ng) and issued a public notice in major channels, including print, electronic, and new digital media. Comments on the draft IM were received by the Commission up until October 28, 2021.

On November 3, 2021, the Commission held a stakeholders’ engagement forum in Lagos at which comments received from a broad segment of stakeholders, including the major operators, were exhaustively discussed and considered.

On November 10, 2021, the Commission published the Final IM, and Stakeholders’ comments thereon on its website and the national dailies, and set the deadline for the submission of bids on Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

As a responsive regulator, the Commission also proceeded to accommodate concerns raised by some stakeholders, due to social disruptions, and extended the date for submission of the bidding applications to Wednesday, November 24, 2021 to Monday, November 29, 2021.

On December 1, 2021, the NCC announced the three companies – MTN Nigeria Limited, Mafab Communications Ltd, and Airtel Networks Ltd – as having successfully submitted their bids in line with the requirements of the IM.

The Commission therefore wishes to thank all stakeholders for all the support, collaboration and partnership they have offered to get to this stage, and implores all stakeholders not to rest on their oars until the bidding processes are concluded successfully. Thereafter, the Commission, as it has now become its culture, will rally stakeholders into the next phase of the implementation of the 5G policy.

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Lagos first lady seeks transporters’ involvement in the fight against gender-based violence

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Lagos State First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu on Thursday urged members of the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) to key into the fight against Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) and become ambassadors of the advocacy to stamp the menace out of the society.

She spoke at the State Headquarters of NURTW located in the Oko-Oba area of Agege during a sensitization visit organized by her office for over 1,000 transport union workers in line with the ongoing global 16 days of activism against SGBV.

“We have been moving across the state with this advocacy. This time around we decided that we are coming to meet our brothers and sisters of the NURTW here. This is the first time I am coming here and I am happy to be with you. We are reminding everyone that we should not be involved in domestic violence and sexual violence.

“These are things that are wrong and we should not take them lightly. We must kick these crimes out of Lagos State. When a woman says no, her no should mean no and it must be respected. When you see something, you must say something and do something. You all must be our ambassadors against the menace,” she said.

The First Lady said like all other professions, it was unlikely to have one or two bad eggs among transport workers, adding that others must work to expose and shame such members so that they do not continue to soil the collective image of the transport union.

She said the State Government had enacted a law that supports the Sex Offenders Register to name and shame perpetrators of sexual crimes, just as she spoke against encouraging intake of all sorts of sachet alcoholic beverages and mixtures which could trigger mental health and SGBV issues.

She said in addition to the earlier unveiling of signposts against SGBV in some Local Government Areas, efforts would soon be made to declare car parks and bus parks as Rape Free Zones, among other initiatives to stamp out the menace.

Also speaking, the Wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat urged parents to wake up and be vigilant in protecting their children against sexual predators, saying it had been observed that abuse of minors was now rampant.

In his welcome remarks, the State Chairman of NURTW, Alhaji Musiliu Ayinde Akinsanya, popularly known as MC Oluomo commended the First Lady for the advocacy against SGBV, saying members of the union were happy to receive her.

He said it was gratifying to note that hooliganism and the sale of alcohol have now become history in the bus parks controlled by the NURTW, adding that no efforts would be spared to sustain peaceful conduct by members of the union.

“Personally, I have never tasted alcohol in my life. I have never smoked cigarettes as well. I will never be in a position to encourage drug abuse and sexual abuse by our members.

“It is also worthy to note that the issue of hooliganism especially during the change of leadership in the parks is now a thing of the past in our Union. We also have children who we are praying to God to be successful in life. Therefore, we will continue to speak out against acts of violence in any form,” Akinsanya said.

At the advocacy visit, an expert on SGBV matters and a retired director in the Lagos State Ministry of Health, Mrs. Ibudunni Alakija-Ladapo anchored a special lecture on SGBV, while various information materials were distributed to members of the NURTW who were drawn from across the state.

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Consumers worry over hike in price of cooking gas

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By Michael Dibie

Some consumers in Nigeria have expressed concern over the current high prices of cooking gas urging the government to intensify measures to address the situation.

They say the price has increased 4 times in the last 2 months adding that the situation is making life unbearable for citizens.

“As a customer, it will affect me because I have a budget for the month that I spent on gas but it has tripled from N3400 (about $6), today I am buying for N7500 (about $14). We just have to plead with the government because gas is the safest means of cooking,” says Nana Abubarka, a customer.

“Well we all have to cook eventually with an increase or decrease but it is becoming unbearable even the prices of food stuffs have increased,” said Ifeanyi Brown, another Customer.

Plant consultant and Managing Director, Lubgas, Bright Ugwu says there are lots of factors attributing the hike in prices of gas.

“The price of LPG is sold at the international price while we make the transaction in local currency. The devaluation of the currency also contributed to this. There are also other factors like infrastructural issues and it is not just the price of gas alone that has increased but also accessories of cylinders have also increased,” he added.

A dealer and sales person says some customers are very angry with the new increase in prices.

“Some of them threaten not to come again saying they will go back to using charcoal or firewood and at the same time, some can’t afford it any longer, it has also made sells decreased, so they react badly to it because the price has gone up,” said Martha Opkara, Sales person.

However, authorities in Nigeria have attributed the rising cost of cooking gas to poor investment into the sector over the years.

According to Bright Ugwu, the government of Nigeria is making efforts to ensure that there is an increase in supply of the product. He says there is a huge gap between demand and supply.

“The government of Nigeria has invited other investors to come and invest and other people that have local production plants in Nigeria to convert gas flaring so that there will be more LPG for the consumers,” Ugwu reiterated.

According to experts in the sector,  the increase may worsen further if nothing is done to remedy the situation.

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