Nigeria: Floods – Extent of Damage to Roads, Other Public Infrastructure, Yet Uncertain – Govt

… Says talks ongoing with Ethiopian government over ban on visa on arrival

The Federal Government, on Wednesday, said it would only be able to measure the extent of damage that the current flooding of public infrastructure has inflicted after it must have receded, though it has started observing disruptions to logistics movements.

Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, stated this while briefing State House correspondents at the end of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting, presided over by President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

Fashola, who was responding to a question on how much damage could have been done to the roads by the reason of flooding and the attendant logistics movements and travels, said it still remains difficult to measure the level of damage until the waters must have finally receded.

The question trailed after recent developments in some parts of the country where major interstate roads have either been taken over by flood or have caused damages to infrastructure, including bridges and road collapses.

According to him, “At this stage, it’s difficult to quantify the damage to the roads, the only thing that is clearly visible at this time, and that’s because the flood is still receding. So it’s when all of that is gone that we can really see how much damage has been done. The impact is that just like in any situation of extreme weather conditions, travel logistics are hampered, so some of the roads are difficult to traverse.

“It has caused some backlog in logistic movements, we are already seeing some disruptions in the supply chain, like fuel and some other things, but we hope that when the water fully recedes, we will see the full extent of the damage. But we are already planning our Ember-months movement, which we do in the last quarter of the year.

“So that will take into consideration any damage that has been done and we’ll try and remedy as much of it as resources and time allow us so that we prepare for that heavy movement period during the festive period”, Fashola said.

Meanwhile, in an effort to smoothen travel relations between Nigeria and Ethiopia, the federal government said it has begun engagements with the Ethiopian government over the recent visa ban on Nigeria, hoping to achieve a reversal of the new policy.

The Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, who disclosed this during the briefing, however, noted that the ban does not in any way affect the business deal between Nigeria and Ethiopian Air over Nigeria Air.

Recall the Ethiopian government recently temporarily suspended visas on arrival for Nigerians and citizens of over 42 other nations with immediate effect.

“I don’t think this is restricted to or applied to Nigeria alone on the decision to do visa on arrival from all the information we got, it affects many countries as well. We have contacted Nigeria Immigration Service and also Ministry of Foreign Affairs to deal with this. It has nothing to do with the relationship between Nigeria and Ethiopian airlines.

“Well, Nigeria Air is a fully private sector-led initiative. And the Ethiopians are even though 100% owned by the government, have been running on their own as if it were a private company. And perhaps even with COVID, I’m not speaking for them. They did wonderfully well, they posted a billion-dollar profit.

“In the past, what concerns us really with them is that there is a policy which is not done by the airline, but the policy of their government, that once you have $3,000 or above and you have not declared at the point of entry, they seized it from Nigerians. And we pushed that case, struggling with them for two years.

“So what Ethiopian airline did, which is noble, and which I think should be commended, is that right there in the terminal building. They built within the two years we were negotiating a super-class hotel, a four-star hotel, where people that are in transit don’t need to go into town. So you don’t need to go to customs to declare your money or get your money ceased. So you remain within the hotel and board your next flight, even if it is 72 hours ahead. So that has solved that problem.

“This particular one, I think, is an initiative by their own ministry of interior and foreign affairs, they applied it to other countries, it is not unique to Nigeria. But that said, it came to our notice and we spoke to our own Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Immigration Service to deal with it, and the embassy as well. And I’m sure that Nigeria is one of the markets they cherish well, so they must look into the policy”, he explained.

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