Govt buys ferries, approves N25b for Abuja project

MAKU-2THE Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the sum of N623.5 million for the ministries of Transport and Interior to acquire two modern ferries and the automation of Citizenship and Business Department.

FEC’s approval of the funds was prompted by memos by the two ministries seeking approval for the procurement of two fast moving passenger ferries (Catamaran) for the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and upgrade of the Citizenship Department’s facilities.

The automation of the operations of the Citizenship and Business Department, worth N455.055 million would be executed under Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model.

FEC also endorsed the N25 billion contract for the development of the Phase II of Kagini District I Abuja North Phase IV of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) masterplan, which was awarded in December 2010 but could not be completed due to lack of funds.

Information Minister, Labaran Maku, said “the continuation of such project could create employment for numerous indigenous professionals, artisans and unskilled labour. Considering the rate at which the city is growing, council approved the development of phase II of District I Abuja North Phase IV West, in favour of Messrs Salini Nig. Ltd. for N25.95 billion, thereby bringing the total contract sum for the project to N52.609 billion with a completion period of 48 months, the approval was given following a memo by the FCT Minister.”

Also yesterday, President Goodluck Jonathan drew attention to the waning fortunes of the civil service and urged support for his reforms to reposition it. He said for government to deliver on effective services to Nigerians, the civil service must be dynamic such that dead woods could easily be flushed out.

Maku told journalists at the end of the Council’s meeting that, “the provision of the ferries will promote waterways transportation, boost economic activities and reduce pressure on other modes, such as road transportation. So, in order not to allow the River Niger to remain fallow after dredging, Council approved the purchase of two fast moving ferries to ply the Niger right from Onitsha-Warri-Lokoja, carrying passengers.

“These ferries would be jointly managed by the government and the private sector as part of government’s efforts to bringing down the cost of transportation in the country. Only two weeks ago, the President launched a mass transit project involving the supply of long buses interest free. He had also hinted of the use of waterways to bring down the cost of transportation. The project is expected to create 23 job opportunities for professionals and non-professionals during the operation of the ferries while many job opportunities will be created indirectly when the ferries are fully operational.”

The two-fast moving 40 to 45 seaters’ passenger ferries (Catamaran) will cost N168.455 million, inclusive of all taxes. They are to be delivered within six months.

Maku, accompanied by the Ministers of Interior (Abba Moro), Transport (Idris Umar) and FCT’s Senator Bala Mohammed, said the proposed automation programme in the Ministry of Interior would “comprise the documentation and re-engineering of the departmental business processes, development of web portal software and revenue collection systems, set up of local area network and internet connectivity, delivery and deployment of hardware peripherals, provision of training/capacity building and provision of maintenance and support services. When completed, the project is expected to improve the functionality and service delivery of the department through increased operational effectiveness, improved revenue collection and reduced transactional costs, faster response times, reduction in wastage and elimination of endemic fraud.

The department is charged with managing the expatriate quota system and the administration of the citizenship application and of course, the control of the Marriage Registry.

By the execution of the projects, all companies, corporations, agencies and organisations, which have employed expatriates are to migrate their employees’ registration into the new platform and must comply with applicable technology fee. This would enable government have a complete database of expatriates employed nation-wide and will also provide employment opportunities and knowledge advancement for Nigerians.

“In order to improve the efficiency and for optimal service delivery of the department, Council approved the automation of the Citizenship and Business Department of the Ministry of Interior on a PPP using Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) model, in favour of Messrs Anchor Dataware Solutions for an initial concession period of five years. It is expected that for each company that migrates to this platform will pay the sum of N50,000. And given the revenue projections, indication given by the company, is expected that within this fixed period of five years, given the number of organisations and companies that would migrate to this platform, enough funds would have been generated. The cost of the project is N455.55 million. We expect to recoup the money within this period through the charges that would be levied. Forty per cent of the excess funds will go to the Federal Government, 50 per cent to the company while 10 per cent will go for project management.”

The Council also approved a memo from the Ministry of Science and Technology to set up a National Science Research Technology and Innovation Fund for the development of science and technology in Nigeria.

The Council had two months ago approved the National Science Technology and Innovation Policy for the country. A committee was set up to study the appropriate ways of funding Science Technology research in the country.

Jonathan, who revisited the low productivity in the civil service, blamed it on “over protectionism.”

He said at the brief oath-taking ceremony for two new permanent secretaries, which preceded the weekly FEC’s meeting that the nation’s civil servants are over protected by law from summary discipline unlike their counterparts in the private sector. He said that is why it is difficult to enforce quick solutions in the system.

Jonathan said the challenge therefore is how to make the civil service more productive and alive to its responsibilities in the push to transform the country.

Jonathan said that it is only through more creativity that their performance can be improved and brought to compete favourably with the private sector.

The new appointees are Aliyu Ismaila Numa from Adamawa State, who is filling the vacancy left by the new Head of Service of the Federation, Alhaji Isa Bello Sali and Ossia George Afemefuna from Ebonyi State to replace Prof. Simon Ogandi.


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