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FG to construct Super Highways on Abuja-Lagos, Port Harcourt-Lagos

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Dave Umahi

The Federal Government is planning two super highways across the country through a Public Private Partnership scheme.

Minister of Work Dave Umahi disclosed this to the State House Correspondents on Sunday after a meeting with President Bola Tinubu in Abuja.

He said that the highways would be from Abuja to Lagos and Port Harcourt to Lagos, adding that they would be provided with state of art facilities for the comfort of the travelling public.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that super highways are designed for travel at high speeds, having more than one lane for each direction of traffic, a safety strip dividing the two directions.

The minister said that the government has got commitments from stakeholders to make the project a success within reasonable period.

Umahi also disclosed that the president was briefed on the need to seek better appropriation for the funding of road projects to avoid unnecessary variations in cost and specifications.

He said that the National Assembly would be carried along to see the necessity of providing enough fund to road project that are beneficial to the people.

He also said that due to inappropriate funding, he has asked the president to direct the termination of road projects that have taken more than 10 years without completion.

The minister assured Nigerians that no project initiated by the past administration would be abandoned by government.

He said that the Tinubu administration inherited 2,604 projects worth N14 trillion covering 18,000 kilometres of roads, adding that a commitment was got for payment of four trillion out of this amount.

The minister added that the government was also committed to the use of reinforced concrete for road pavements across the country.

Concrete, he said, is capable of withstanding heavy loads, such as heavy vehicles, with less deformation and serves for years without major repairs.

Several factors affect concrete pavement performance, such as traffic, soil, environmental, economic and stress distribution factors.

He said that the merit of these would be the use of local materials and elimination of imported items which has been the cause of contract variations in the country..

On the structural defects on the Third Mainland bridge, Umahi said that work has started and articulated vehicles had been stopped from plying it for now.

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Job Losses, Factory Closures Loom As Unsold Goods Pile Up — MAN

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AGAINST the backdrop of sustained pressure in the foreign exchange market and high cost of production, the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria, MAN has indicated that inventory of unsold goods is escalating to levels now threatening the existence of companies operating in the production sector of the economy with attendant job losses.

Findings show that as of the weekend the foreign exchange market had recorded over 254 per cent plunge in the value of the naira since flotation of the currency by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) in June 2023.

Recall that the naira traded for N471 per dollar in the official I&E market on June 13, 2023 before the floatation of the currency, but exchanged for N1,665.50 to a dollar as at February 23, 2024 on the Nigerian Foreign Exchange Market (NAFEM), indicating a depreciation of more than 253.6 per cent over the eight-month period. The forex crisis is also stoking inflation, and coupled with high energy costs, purchasing power has continued plummet, stifling demand for goods.

Speaking on the impact of this development on the manufacturing sector, Director General, MAN, Segun Ajayi-Kadir, said: “There are reports that across the board, many warehouses and plants of many manufacturing firms are stockpiled with unsold goods manufactured last year. “The development is as a result of the devastating effects of the exchange rate crisis, inflation, fake and sub-standard goods, smuggling and other macro-economics challenges.”

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CBN Lifts Ban On BDCs, Introduces New Operational Mechanism

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In a major development aimed at financial stability and strengthening the naira, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) plans to resume its weekly intervention in the country’s foreign exchange (FX) market through the Bureau de Change (BDC) operators.

In 2021, the central bank, in a bid to achieve its mandate of safeguarding the value of the local currency, ensuring financial system stability, and shoring up external reserves, announced the immediate discontinuance of foreign currency sales to Bureau de Change (BDC) operators in the country.

However, the resumed intervention, which would reportedly commence today for funding as well as Tuesday for collection, will see the apex bank inject FX into the subsector in a bid to rescue the naira from further depreciation against major currencies, particularly the US Dollar. The collection will be at designated CBN branches in Lagos, Abuja, Kano, and Awka, while details of the naira accounts to be credited for funding bidding will also be made available today.

CBN is also expected to publish the list of eligible BDCs to benefit from its funding using certain compliance criteria.National Executive Council of Association of Bureau De Change Operators of Nigeria (ABCON) hinted on the latest developments through a memo to its members over the weekend.

The association also warned members that it will no longer be business as usual under the new supervisory regime of the central bank, as any infringement or infraction would result in outright revocation of license and prosecution.

ABCON said through the association’s various engagements with the central bank, in conjunction with ABCON’s strategic partners, CBN had agreed to its request, under the bank’s supervision, to inject liquidity into the market through a weekly intervention beginning today.

CBN assured ABCON that the new circular on the Revised Regulatory and Supervisory Guidelines to BDCs, which was introduced over the weekend, was only a draft exposure that required the association’s inputs before the release of the final guidelines by the apex bank.

To that effect, the letters of the guidelines were not cast in stone, the association’s leadership told its members, who had been worried over the sweeping reforms in the document, which, among other things, prescribed N2 billion and N500 million minimum capital for national and state BDCs, respectively.

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