The Customs comptroller in charge of Onne Port in Rivers, Auwal Mohammed, says the deplorable state of link roads to the port remains a big bane to greater revenue generation.
Particularly, Mr Mohammed lamented the poor state of the Port Harcourt-Onne axis of the East-West road, adding that movement of consignments were being delayed as a result of the bad road.
“Our major challenge here is that we don’t have a motorable road linking Onne Port with other parts of the country.
“This is because anybody assessing the Onne Port must drive by the Eleme road which is currently in a deployable state.
“The road is our major challenge because no matter how many containers and trucks are released, the rate at which import goods move in and export goods move out of the port is largely determined by the nature of the road.
“Although survey works, seismic vulnerability assessments and other technical measures in highway construction have begun.
“We look forward to a commendable stage of work in the coming months as this success would further impact positively on our overall operations,’’ he said.
The comptroller reaffirmed commitment to value addition through increased revenue drive. He noted that the port under his watch has recorded steady growth from N13.11 billion to N19 billion in October.
Mr Mohammed disclosed this during an interaction with the Business and Maritime Writers Association of Nigeria (BUMWAN) on Thursday in Onne, Eleme Local Area in Rivers.
According to him, the monthly revenue generation profile of the command clearly showed a steady increment month after month since September 2020.
“Precisely in September 2020, when I took over, the command generated N13.11 billion, the highest since its creation.
“It had since then continued on a steady upward growth to N16 billion and N19 billion recorded in October 2021.
“When we eventually release our annual report, possibly by the second week in January 2022, I assure you, we are going to surprise almost everybody and our efforts in this command will be further appreciated,” he said.
Reacting to the challenge of clamping down on smugglers, the customs boss assured on readiness to stem the menace and bring it down to a barest minimum.
“Although smuggling cannot be completely stopped in any country in the world, the Nigerian Customs is, however, poised to reduce the menace to the barest minimum.
“In terms of substandard goods, the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) is saddled with the responsibility of controlling the quality of goods coming into the country.
“For instance, an item even if it’s substandard as long as it is not listed among contraband goods, the customs cannot verify such items as to whether it is substandard or not.
“This is where SON comes in and I’m sure they (officers) are doing their best to rid the country of substandard goods,” he added.
In his response, Peter Ihejirika, the President of BUMWAN, on behalf of the group assured on readiness toward deepening media collaboration with the command.
He applauded the command’s fiscal policy and anti-smuggling war of the Auwal-led administration.
“Your doggedness has indeed made the Onne Port a restricted zone for smugglers who over the years had engaged in unwholesome trade using the Port as it’s gateway,” he said.
APC Crisis: Ex-Gov. Yerima calls for unity in Zamfara
Former Governor Ahmad Yerima of Zamfara has called for unity in the All Progressives Congress (APC) family in the state, urging those challenging the party’s leadership in the state to stop in the interest of peace.
Mr Yerima said this when he received newly inaugurated state executives of the party at his residence in Gusau.
Yusuf Idris, APC’s publicity secretary in Zamfara, disclosed this in a statement in Gusau on Monday.
The statement said the executives’ visit was to show appreciation to APC stakeholders in Zamfara over their emergence under the chairmanship of Tukur-Umar Danfulani.
“During the visit, Danfulani promised to show leadership by example, promising that all loyal members will be fully engaged in party activities,” said the statement.
It added that the executives also visited former Governor Mahmud Shinkafi, serving and former lawmakers at the National and State House of Assembly, among others.
COVID-19: Botswana confirms 19 Omicron cases
Botswana Health Minister, Edwin Dikoloti, has confirmed 19 cases of the newly-discovered Omicron variant of COVID-19.
“Such detection should not be confused with Botswana being the country of origin of the strain,” the Botswana health minister said.
Mr Dikoloti disclosed this at a briefing that additional assessments and analyses of other positive COVID-19 samples had revealed 15 more cases of the Omicron variant on Sunday after four foreigners were declared infected.
“We will continue to expand our conduct tracing to ensure that no potential cases go undetected,” Mr Dikoloti stressed.
He further stated that the initial cases of the Omicron variant in Botswana were detected after four foreign nationals, who had briefly visited Botswana, tested positive for COVID-19 on November 11.
The variant was confirmed as the Omicron variant on November 24.
Omicron: Philippines launches ambitious vaccination drive
The Philippines on Monday launched an ambitious three-day vaccination drive to give COVID-19 shots to up to nine million Filipinos amid the threat of the highly mutated Omicron variant of the coronavirus.
Thousands of security forces and volunteers were deployed nationwide to implement the campaign, which was being held as the country again imposed international travel restrictions.
“The national vaccination day is very timely and truly a milestone in our COVID-19 pandemic response and mitigation efforts,” Carlito Galvez, the country’s vaccination chief, said. “Inoculating nine million individuals in three days is our most ambitious target so far.”
According to the Department of Health, three million people would be vaccinated a day or nearly four times the average of 813,734 daily doses in the past week.
The department said before Monday, more than 35.78 million Filipinos had been fully vaccinated, or over 32 per cent of the country’s total population of 110 million.
The government aims to vaccinate 54 million people by the end of 2021 and 77 million by next March.
Mr Galvez said with the country’s increasing supply of vaccines, the key was now to “accelerate and expand the capacity” of local government units, especially those outside the capital region of Metro Manila.
The Philippines banned flights from 14 countries, including seven European nations, due to rising COVID-19 cases and the detection of the Omicron variant.
The government also indefinitely delayed a previous decision to start accepting some foreign tourists again from December 1.
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