The Zone Rs 5 Command of the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) announced on Friday that 278 deaths were recorded in Edo, Delta and Anambra between January and September this year.
The Commanding Officer of the zone, Mr Kehinde Adeleye, made the disclosure in Benin in an interview with a correspondent of the Nigeria News Agency (NAN).
Adeleye said that 1,492 people were also injured in 492 road accidents recorded within the period.
He said that about 157 cases were recorded as fatal, while 283 cases were documented as serious with 52 cases reported as minor.
The commander explained, however, that between July and September, about 90 people were reported killed in the zone in 168 road accidents with 481 people injured.
Adeleye said that 56 cases were also reported as fatal with 89 recorded as serious and 23 reported as minor incidents in three months from July to September.
The officer said that the zone had put machinery in motion to ensure a drastic reduction of road traffic crashes in the zone in the remaining months of this year.
He said the command would be collaborating with other agencies the `ember months’ to curb road traffic crashes drastically.
According to him, the collaboration will entail joint deployment of personnel and logistics to ensure that the roads were safe for motorists and other road users, especially in accident-prone areas on the highways.
Adeleye said that the command had sought the intervention of the Federal Roads Maintenance Agency and the Federal Ministry of Works to fix bad sports on the highways.
He said the command had also been talking with governors in the three states, to repair failed portions of roads to prevent accidents.
Adeleye said that special marshals and traffic management officers in the three states were being sensitised on traffic management, ahead of the `ember’ months. (NAN)
Edited by Olawunmi Ashafa/Silas Nwoha
Australian family business’ tale of lobsters with China
“You can go to markets like Europe where there are different varieties of lobster but people cannot really tell the difference between them. The Chinese can definitely taste the difference and the southern rock lobster is at the top,” said ferguson whose business is ideally suited to the Chinese market.
“On very important occasions southern rock lobster is the one they want to serve on the plate,” he told Xinhua. Ferguson’s family business, which handles between 25 percent to 30 percent of South Australia’s lobster catch, knows exactly how to get them to the Chinese consumers. However, in a coronavirus-ravaged world that is not going to be easy.
LONG ROAD TO SUCCESS
Half a century ago, Ferguson’s father, who was a farmer, left the land and moved to Kingston, 300 km from Adelaide along the southern Australian coastline.
He bought a fishing boat and began catching lobsters in 1969. Andrew worked with his father until 1980 before purchasing his own boat and with his first exports of frozen lobster medallions sold into the European market.
“From 1988 to 1989 the Southern Rock Lobster industry shifted from the American frozen tail market to the Chinese live market. A couple of entrepreneurial lobster fishermen started exporting live lobsters to China in their own tanks and it started from there,” said Ferguson. “The United States market couldn’t keep pace with the Chinese market and almost overnight it trended into the Chinese market.”
Over the past two decades the Ferguson Group has diversified and, in addition to lobsters, now sells fish, prawns, tuna, crabs and scallops. The business has been recognized though numerous awards including being named as South Australia’s best export agribusiness.
While a number of large companies and investors have bought into the lobster fishing industry, around 70 percent of South Australian operators remain family businesses.
“Family business helps our business model,” said Ferguson. “We’ve got a lot of trust with our suppliers. We run our own fishing boats but we also have relationships with other fishermen and being family-owned really helps us in maintaining our business relationships.”
That business culture built on long-term relationships has proved an enormous help in opening up the Chinese market.
The key to the Chinese market, he thought, is quite obvious. “It’s travelling, which means going to China … It’s about building and forging relationships. I first went there 20 years ago, it’s about getting to know people and going back to see them again and again and again. It really is a simple process of relationship building.”
RELATIONSHIP THAT MAKES SENSE
An enormous frustration for family-owned agribusiness of Ferguson and other primary producers is the constant calls from a small group of outspoken media and political commentators that Australia should export to countries other than China.
Relationships have been built up over many years, in the case of Ferguson two decades, and it is impossible to abandon long-term overseas buyers and expect to walk into another market straight away.
Another key factor is that Chinese buyers offer the best price for Australian lobsters. Chinese buyers will pay up to 50 percent more for southern rock lobsters than Australian consumers.
“That’s exactly the issue,” said Ferguson. “And that’s why we are better off working with China because they respect the product. They want it and our relationships with China are very important. We want to keep the doors as wide open as we possibly can because it is a big market and certainly the best price we can achieve is in China.”
His Ferguson Group is not entirely reliant on China, but it is simply the best market. “We can sell to Japan, but there’s less demand and they want smaller lobsters at a lower price point,” he said.
“We’ve sold to the Middle East and we’ve sold to France, but it all falls away once the price of the lobster reaches the 50-Australian-dollar mark. The price point in China is typically 10 to 20 dollars a kilogram better than we can achieve in other markets. It’s all about quality, they are willing to pay for the quality.”
According to Commonwealth research agency ABARES, the total value of Australia’s lobster exports to China is 660 million Australian dollars (about 458 million United States dollars). That money mostly flows back to small operators.
The Ferguson Group processes seafood produce for more than 350 small family-owned businesses. Falling demand at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak and now lack of airfreight capacity to China has seen prices paid to fishermen drop by more than 50 percent, while their fixed costs remain high.
The median price for second-hand lobster boats in South Australia is between 450,000 and 500,000 Australian dollars (312,250-346,950 United States dollars) and those younger families who have borrowed money to buy their boats simply cannot afford to see prices fall.
One small operator, who did not want to be identified, told Xinhua: “Reviving access to the China market is the only way for me to stay in business.”
Live whole lobsters command the best price for exported product and the only way to get live lobsters to China from Australia’s three main lobster producing states, South Australia, Western Australia and Tasmania, is by air.
Around 50 percent of airfreight from Australia to China was carried in commercial passenger flights before the coronavirus hit. The international travel ban has all but wiped out those flights.
“A lot of our product gets trucked to Melbourne and flown mainly to Shanghai with direct flights. Because it is such a perishable product, we need direct flights, we need lobsters to arrive in China at the right time of the day so it’s not sitting around,” said Ferguson.
Though major airlines have cargo divisions few of them have dedicated cargo aircraft. Apart from 1.5 million visitors, the Chinese tourist boom had also delivered enormous capacity for air cargo.
“Pre-coronavirus we had 16 flights a week out of Melbourne, now we’re back to three. We’re coping at the moment because we’re on the shoulder of the fishing season, with the start of the lobster season coming we are going to have trouble getting product out in a timely fashion,” he said.
In April the Australian government came to the rescue, with a 110-million-Australian-dollar (76.3-million-United States-dollar) International Freight Assistance Mechanism which subsidies air cargo flights from Australia to 17 different destinations. However, there are no direct flights to the Chinese mainland and only one flight from Adelaide, which goes to Hong Kong.
“The problem we have is getting government to understand logistics and that’s difficult. We have alternative flights through Singapore Airlines and Cathy Pacific but they don’t always link up to our China destinations,” Ferguson pointed out.
Up until now there has never been a coordinated export approach across all industries air-freighting fresh produce exports.
“You’ve got cherry growers, the West Australian lobster industry want to get product into southern China, and we want to get into northern China. There’s a wide range of produce exporters but we’ve never been synced up in the way we air-freight to China,” he added.
“We didn’t realize how fortunate we were pre-COVID-19 and this just makes it all stand out. It’s going to be a difficult process to try and fix and, until there’s a vaccine, this problem’s going to be around for quite a while.”
Tennis : Americans ‘selfish’ to go ahead with United States Open – Kyrgios
Australian Nick Kyrgios says the United States Tennis Association is being “selfish” by pressing ahead with the United States Open on its original dates from Aug. 31 to Sept. 13.
Multiple media reports on Monday said the USTA would confirm the Grand Slam tournament would go ahead without fans despite New York City still recording hundreds of new COVID-19 cases every day.
Kyrgios, who has been in lockdown in Australia since the pandemic brought a halt to the ATP Tour, appeared more concerned about having to undergo 14 days of self-isolation upon his return home from Flushing Meadows.
“People that live in the United States of course are pushing (for) the Open to go ahead ‘Selfish’
“I’ll get my hazmat suit ready for when I travel from Australia and then have to quarantine for two weeks on my return,” the world number 40 posted on Twitter.
Kyrgios also slammed the ATP Tour as selfish earlier this month for pressing ahead with plans to play the United States Open while the virus had not been contained and with the streets of United States cities filled with protests at the death of George Floyd.
The 25-year-old also tweeted Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal last week to ask them if they felt the tournament should go ahead.
He received no public replies from any of the multiple Grand Slam winners.
Despite the health concerns, American player Danielle Collins has called on the event to go ahead to give players the chance to earn money again and criticised Djokovic for his opposition to the protocols proposed by organisers.
“It’s easy when someone’s made $150 million throughout their career to try and tell people what to do with their money, and then turn down playing in the United States Open,” she posted on social media last week.
Spotlight: United States COVID-19 cases over 2.1 mln as new hotspots emerge amid economy reopening
United States COVID-19 cases topped 2.1 million with over 116,000 fatalities on Monday as new hotspots emerged in many states where restrictions in place to curb the spread of the virus continue to ease amid an economic reopening.
There were 2,113,372 cases of COVID-19 and 116,135 deaths in the United States, according to an updated tally by Johns Hopkins University on Monday.
New York state, once the country’s epicenter of COVID-19, has gone from having the worst infection rate to the “best,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
As of Sunday, New York had 1,608 coronavirus patients, the lowest figure since March 20, and a three-day average of 27 deaths, the lowest since March 21, he added.
However, states in the South, West and Southwest are seeing upticks in their coronavirus case counts — and in some cases setting records — as a troubling pattern emerges in areas that began lifting restrictions earlier than others, the New York Times reported.
South Carolina, which was among the last states to issue stay-at-home orders and the first to start reopening, recorded 840 new infections on Monday, the highest number in one day since the pandemic began, said the report.
In Arizona, which reopened pools and gyms in recent weeks, hospitals have been urged to activate emergency plans to handle a flood of COVID-19 patients, it added.
Arizona is one of the 12 United States states seeing a rise in hospitalizations from COVID-19 and one of the eight states that experts say are the new hotspots for the virus, news website Vox.com reported.
At least 23 United States states were seeing a rise in cases as of last week, according to a CNBC analysis of Johns Hopkins data.
Texas health authorities said there were 2,287 patients sickened with COVID-19 on Sunday, the sixth new high for coronavirus hospitalizations in the state in less than a week, CNBC reported.
Texas is among the first United States states to relax its statewide stay-at-home order, allowing it to expire April 30.
The United States will see an even more grave situation in containing the pandemic as states start reopening and schools resume in-person instruction, experts warned.
“I fear that we will not see a turning point for a year,” Stanley Perlman, a professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of Iowa, told Xinhua in an email interview.
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) projected that the country was on pace to reach 124,000 to 140,000 COVID-19 deaths by July 4, and that more fatalities could be expected in Arizona, Arkansas, Hawaii, North Carolina, Utah and Vermont next month versus the last month.
An influential model produced by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington also revised its projections, forecasting nearly 170,000 COVID-19 deaths in the United States by Oct. 1.
Projections for most locations suggested that infections could rise between August and September, assuming that schools will reopen for in-person instruction during this period, said an IHME release.
States may need to re-implement the strict social distancing measures that were put in place earlier this year if coronavirus cases rise “dramatically,” the CDC said.