The Surulere Local Government Council of Lagos says it has rehabilitated 24 roads in its second phase.
Mr Billy Balogun, the Special Adviser on Works and Construction in the council, told the News Agency of Nigeria that it started the second phase in January.
Balogun spoke at Onilegogoro area of the council which is one the roads rehabilitated by the local government council.
He said that the Council Chairman, Hon. Tajudeen Ajide, was determined to ensure that all the bad roads in Surulere would be adequately rehabilitated using standard materials.
He said that since Ajude assumed office, many streets’ roads in deplorable conditions in the council had been repaired to ease movement of vehicles for the residents.
“Under his leadership, we have been able to construct and rehabilitate 23 roads such as Ayinde Giwa Street using interlocking stones.
“Also, Oyekan Street’s road had been rehabilitated thus improving its face lift and increasing the commercial values of the properties there.
“We have also repaired Apena Street,New Era link road which was last repaired in 1984, Alhaji Ade Thani Street, Tafawa Balewa and Shitta Roundabout ring roads.
“ At present, we are trying to complete the rehabilitation of the Onilegogoro road along Alhaji Masha road.
” It became deplorable due to bad drainage system which warranted the construction of a channel for water to flow into the canal from the street ,” he said.
NAN observed that due to the exercise , vehicular movements along the axis was partially restricted, with diversions to other routes.
Balogun also urged residents to avoid dumping refuse in canals, and cutting of roads without due approval from the state.
He said that the council was planning to rehabilitate about 30 more roads before the end of the year.
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.”
Road accident kills 5, injures 5 in central Vietnam
Two trucks hit a farm vehicle in Vietnam’s central highlands Dak Nong province on Saturday, killing five people and leaving five others seriously wounded, Vietnam News Agency reported.
The accident happened at around 6:00 a.m. near a market place in Dak Mil District when two trucks, which were on the same direction, collided with a tractor from the opposite direction, according to local authorities. The two trucks rushed to the curb, hitting several small businesses and stalls along the road.
Further investigation is underway.
Between January and May, as many as 5,508 traffic accidents occurred in Vietnam, killing 2,667 people, severely injuring 1,547 people and slightly injuring 2,418 others, according to the country’s Traffic Police Department.
Niger LG rehabilitates 17km Roofia/Agwara Road -Chairman
The Agwara Local Government Council in Niger said that the rehabilitation of 17 kilometer Roofia-Agwara road was carried out at the cost of N30 million.
Kokoli, who lauded the quality of job done by the contractor, said that the council embarked on the project due to its socio economic importance to the people.
He said that the road, which linked communities such as Busuru, Mahuta, Kokoli and Gallah wards, would ease transportation problem facing the people.
He said that the council was doing everything possible to embark on the rehabilitation of other feeder roads across the 10 wards of the council to transportation problem.
Kokoli said that rehabilitation work on Agwara-Kokoli and Agwara-Gallah feeder roads in the area was ongoing and in various stages of completion.
He said that when completed it would help the people of the area, who were predominantly farmers, to transport their farm products to the market.
The Council boss reiterated his administration’s commitment to meaningful projects that would impact positively on the people.
He reminded the residents to adhere strictly to precautionary measures put in place by the government to tackle the spread of Coronavirus disease in the state.
Responding, Alhaji Tukur Abdullahi, District Head of Roofia, thanked the chairman for rehabilitating the road, adding that he should continue with his people-oriented projects.
Federal Road Projects: FEC approves refunds of N148bn to Rivers, Ondo, 3 others
The Federal Executive Council (FEC) presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari on Wednesday approved refund of N148billion expended on federal roads by Rivers, Cross River, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun states.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, stated this when he briefed State House correspondents on the outcome of the third virtual meeting of the FEC, held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Mohammed said the approval of the refund followed a memo presented by the Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola.
He said: “You will recall that in 2016, 36 states of the federation sent a very huge bill to the federal government, asking for compensation for money that they have expended on federal roads.
“This prompted Mr President to set up a committee to go and verify the claims of these 36 states, whether indeed these projects were actually constructed, were they completed, in line with the federal government standards.
“At the end of that exercise by an inter-ministerial committee, chaired by the minister of works and housing, but also had Ministers of Education, Transportation, Finance, Minister of State for Works, DG BPP and Permanent Secretary Cabinet Office as members.
“At the end of that exercise, the committee recommended that the federal government should refund N550,364,297.31 billion to 31 of the 36 states, after they were convinced that, yes indeed, the projects were completed and they were federal government roads.
“But the claims of five other states Cross River, Rivers, Ondo, Bayelsa and Osun failed on the grounds that they did not do proper documentation and the committee felt they needed proper documentation.
“So, the committee went back with new terms of reference to ensure that the claims of the five states were in order, that is why the BPP is on the committee.
“So, at the end of the exercise, the committee now reported that the five states – Cross River with 20 roads and one bridge will get a refund of N18,394,737,608.85, Ondo with six roads to get a refund of N7,822,147,577.08, and Osun with two roads and one bridge to get a refund of N2,468,938,876.78.
Mohammed said the committees confirmed the roads and the bridges, that not only were they completed, they were in substantial good form, adding that some of the bridges and roads were built about 10 years ago.
He, however, disclosed that “there is a caveat, as the federal government will pay the states but however, henceforth, if any state takes on federal government road, it will not be paid, they will not get any refund.
“Even if you want to pay from your own pocket, you will still need the permission of the federal government and it will be supervised by the federal ministry of works and housing.”
According to him, the modalities of refund are being worked out and payment will be made over a period of time.