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Residents in Enugu Lament Soaring Transportation Costs, Urge Government Intervention

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Enugu residents are grappling with the escalating transportation expenses within the metropolis, leading to widespread hardship and a surge in pedestrian commuters. The removal of fuel subsidies and the absence of palliative measures in the past five months have compounded the challenges faced by the people.

A recent observation by a correspondent from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) revealed that many residents are now resorting to daily treks covering considerable distances due to the prohibitive cost of transportation. The removal of fuel subsidies and a recent slight increase in petrol prices have exacerbated the already burdensome situation.

Commuters voiced their concerns about the hardship brought about by the surging transportation costs. They noted that the price of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) commonly known as petrol has risen from the official price of N650 per litre to N665 and N670 in most fuel stations across Enugu. In the Nsukka and Oji River areas, petrol prices range from N670 to N680 per litre.

Transporters like Mr. Obinna Ezinwa, who plies the Gariki–Holy Ghost axis of Enugu, expressed sympathy for the people but cited the high cost of fuel and daily government levies, which have reached N400 per day, as reasons for the elevated transport charges. He emphasized the inability of transporters to influence the situation due to the prevailing high fuel costs.

Tricycle operators, including Mr. Jude Okoli, highlighted that the cost of transportation had surged by over 100 percent, leading to a shift in fare rates. Commercial tricycles, which previously charged N50 for even short distances, now demand a minimum of N100 per passenger.

The dire situation extends to school children, with pupils trekking several kilometers to and from school due to the inability to afford transportation costs. Residents criticized the lack of government intervention, especially considering the removal of fuel subsidies five months ago. They called for transport palliatives, especially for civil servants, who are among the least paid in the country.

Despite the approval of palliatives by the federal government for all states, Enugu residents claim they are yet to experience the positive impact of these measures. The prevailing difficulties underscore the urgency for the state government to address the transportation challenges and explore avenues for attracting Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to alleviate the burden on its citizens.

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Emergency Wheat Production Project Boosts Sudan’s Wheat Yield by 70%

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An emergency wheat production initiative in Sudan, funded by the African Development Bank and executed by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), has successfully increased wheat production in targeted areas by up to 70% over the past year. This significant boost comes amidst a looming hunger catastrophe exacerbated by ongoing conflict in the country.

The African Development Bank allocated $75 million to the WFP for the implementation of the Sudan Emergency Wheat Production Project over two years. The project has been instrumental in enhancing food security in a nation where agricultural output has been severely hindered by violence.

“This development comes at a critical time for Sudan, which is facing a looming hunger catastrophe due to the ongoing conflict that has slowed down production in the past agricultural season,” said Nnenna Nwabufo, the Bank’s Director General for the Eastern Africa region. “Given the great potential that agriculture offers even under circumstances of active conflict, and with famine in Sudan on the horizon threatening millions of lives, this project has brought a lot of hope.”

Nwabufo highlighted that this year alone, 22 percent of the national wheat demand was met through the project. “Its impressive performance has demonstrated that there are viable solutions to increasing domestic production to address the rising levels of hunger and acute malnutrition in the country,” she added. “We are pleased that the scaled-up delivery of certified climate-resilient wheat seed varieties and fertilizers to smallholder farmers in the target areas across the country was timely, saving many lives under the prevailing challenges of conflict.”

Mary Monyau, the Bank’s Country Manager for Sudan, elaborated on the scope and impact of the project. “This wheat production project, financed by the African Development Bank, became the heart of production at this critical moment in Sudan. It provided food security, yielding 645,000 metric tonnes of wheat this year, and also served as a critical crisis response intervention for internally displaced persons,” she explained. “More than 30% of the beneficiaries in the Northern State are IDPs.”

Monyau further noted that the project was built on earlier wheat production initiatives under the Technologies for African Agricultural Transformation project, implemented from 2018 to 2021. “We thank our development partner, the World Food Programme, for implementing this project and ensuring positive outcomes in at least five states, namely Gezira, Kassala, River Nile, White Nile, and Northern States, despite the active conflict in the country.”

Eddie Rowe, WFP Sudan Representative and Country Director, summarized the project’s impact: “The ongoing conflict in Sudan has had a devastating impact on agriculture. Sudan produced merely half the wheat it would have in a typical year. Thanks to funding from the African Development Bank, WFP was able to mitigate some of the impacts of this war on wheat production.”

The project distributed climate-adapted wheat seeds and fertilizers to over 170,000 smallholder farmers across five states during the 2023-2024 agricultural season. It covered areas in the relatively stable northern and eastern states as well as conflict-affected regions like Gezira and White Nile states. The project supported 16,000 newly displaced farmers, providing them with resources to rebuild their livelihoods, and supplied 12 harvester machines to farmers’ associations in River Nile and Northern states to reduce losses.

The yield of 645,000 metric tonnes of wheat this year accounted for 22 percent of Sudan’s total wheat consumption needs, with farmers reporting a 44 percent increase in productivity per hectare compared to the previous season.

As Sudan faces an unprecedented hunger crisis, with about 2.1 million people at high risk of severe food insecurity, investments in agricultural productivity are crucial.

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LASTMA Cracks Down on Illegal Motor Parks, Impounds 40 More Vehicles

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The Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around the Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas.

Taofiq Adebayo, spokesman for LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday.

Mr Adebayo noted that the impounding of the vehicles in these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by Kayode Odunuga, the LASTMA head of enforcement, under the directives of Sola Giwa, the special adviser to the governor on transportation.

Mr Adebayo said that they were specifically directed at illegal garages, which had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the Lagos government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

Mr Giwa emphasised that the government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads and ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos. These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users, and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Mr Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

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PCNGi Shines at Climate Action Africa Forum 2024

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The Presidential Compressed Natural Gas Initiative (#PCNGi) made a notable impact at the Climate Action Africa Forum 2024, the largest gathering of climate change stakeholders on the continent, held in Lagos. The event brought together leaders, experts, and activists to discuss and strategize on climate action across Africa.

Engineer Michael Oluwagbemi, the Chief Executive of #PCNGi, delivered a compelling keynote address. He outlined the initiative’s ambitious vision of converting Nigeria’s waste gas into valuable resources, underscoring its dedication to sustainable energy solutions and proactive climate action. Oluwagbemi emphasized that harnessing waste gas not only reduces environmental pollution but also offers significant economic benefits.

“The Presidential CNG Initiative is a testament to Nigeria’s commitment to turning environmental challenges into economic opportunities,” Oluwagbemi stated. “By transforming waste gas into wealth, we are not only addressing the issue of gas flaring but also creating a new revenue stream that can drive economic growth and job creation.”

The keynote address also highlighted several key projects and achievements of the initiative. These include the development of infrastructure for compressed natural gas (CNG) distribution, partnerships with local and international stakeholders, and the promotion of CNG as a cleaner, more affordable alternative to traditional fossil fuels.

Oluwagbemi noted that the initiative is aligned with global climate goals and Nigeria’s own targets under the Paris Agreement. He called on other African nations to adopt similar strategies, leveraging their natural resources to foster sustainable development.

In addition to the keynote address, #PCNGi hosted a series of panel discussions and workshops during the forum. These sessions focused on the technical, economic, and social aspects of CNG implementation, offering insights and fostering dialogue among participants.

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