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Lagos Blue Line rail project may not be ready until 2022

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Indications have emerged that the Lagos Blue Line rail project may not be ready until 2022.

Following a comprehensive review of the rail project, which ought to have commenced passenger operation but had been hindered by unforeseen third party issues and other challenges, the State Government said the Marina to Mile 2 section of the project known as the Blue Line Rail, would now be ready for passenger operation by 2022.

Details of this development form part of the revelations made at the signing of a major agreement between the Lagos State government and Alstom SA of France on the Lagos Rail Mass Transit (LRMT) project. The exercise is a renewed effort to rev up the multi-modal transport system in the State.

Officials of the State government had noted that consultants it engaged to carry out a technical review and due diligence on the implementation of the project, which substantially had focused on civil works, and reported back to government that operation of the first phase may only commence in 2022.

Speaking at the signing of the agreement with Alstom SA, Managing Director of Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority (LAMATA), Mr. Abiodun Dabiri, who signed on behalf of the State Government, said the partnership was the result of the commitment of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode towards the transformation of public transportation in the State.

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According to him, “Based on the final report submitted, the consortium of Alstom Transport SA France has been engaged for the procurement, engineering, construction, installation of Operation & Maintenance (O&M) moveable infrastructure and commissioning of railway systems towards the commencement of passenger operations for LRMT Blue Line project from Marina to Mile 2.”

“For this purpose, a track length of about 3.0 km from Iganmu Station to National Theatre will be electrified. This operation would be done with the rolling stocks already supplied for the Blue Line project.

“This phase would allow the completion of all the preliminary works that would lead to the financing of the main works in Phase two. Phase one will be fully financed by Lagos State Government through Internally Generated Revenue (IGR).

“Phase two, which is expected to be completed in 39 months, would entail the provision and installation of railway operations’ systems for the project from Marina to Mile 2 and the delivery of a passenger-ready Lagos Blue Rail Line by 2022,” he said.

Responding, Mr. Guy Jean-Pierre, a Director of Alstom SA, thanked the State Government for the confidence reposed in the firm and the opportunity given to partner with the State on the Blue Line Rail project.

He assured that Alstom would work to ensure the delivery of the Blue Line to passenger operation by bringing on board required expertise and experience in rail system management.

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Nigeria receives $16bn investment from IOCs

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Heineken Lokpobiri, Nigeria’s Minister of State for Petroleum Resources (Oil), revealed on Monday that the country’s oil and gas industry had received approximately $16.6 billion in investments over the previous 12 months.

He gave updates while speaking in Abuja on the oil industry’s accomplishments since President Bola Tinubu took office on May 29, 2023.

Additionally, in a previous meeting with Olivier Le Peuch, the CEO of Schlumberger Limited, Lokpobiri disclosed that the Federal Government was about to finalize a $20 billion agreement to increase Nigeria’s oil and gas production.

The minister stated, “One of our main objectives has been to create an environment where investments can thrive,” when discussing the steps being taken to draw in investments. The absence of the Petroleum Industry Act and erratic policies had discouraged investment for more than ten years.

“Today, I am pleased to announce that our efforts have rekindled investor confidence in the sector. Notable examples include investments committed to the tune of $5bn and $10bn in deepwater offshore assets; and a $1.6bn investment commitment in oil and gas asset acquisition.

The very high global interest is noted in the ongoing bid round of assets coming online, arising from the recent roadshow activities in the United States and Europe.”

Additionally, Lokpobiri noted that since Tinubu took office, Nigeria has seen a rise in the output of crude oil.

“Our foremost achievement is the significant increase in production. When we took office, production was at approximately 1.1 million barrels per day, including condensates.

“Today, I am proud to report that we have increased our production to approximately 1.7 million barrels per day (inclusive of condensate). This increase is a testament to our relentless efforts to streamline operations and resolve conflict among stakeholders,” the oil minister stated.

Among the actions done to boost the output of crude oil, Lokpobiri mentioned that attempts were made to bring idle oil assets back into service.

To resolve industry conflicts and increase output, he added that ongoing conversations were being held with members of the Independent Petroleum Producers Group and multinational oil firms.

Lokpobiri added, “Resolutions of internal joint venture contracts feud between joint venture partners on critical production fields. Engaging local communities with critical assets running through them to protect the assets, all in a bid to decrease oil theft across the country.

“Consolidating existing security framework with private security firms and government security agencies for pipeline surveillance, which led to a sharp decline in crude oil theft and thus increased production for export.”

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Tax evasion trial of Binance executives postponed until June 14 by Nigerian court

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A Nigerian court Wednesday postponed the tax evasion case against Binance until next month, when the cryptocurrency exchange and two of its officials might potentially be charged, according to the judge.

Authorities were unable to bring U.S. citizen and Binance head of financial crime compliance Tigran Gambaryan to court, which caused the case to standstill. Gambaryan did not give a justification for missing the courtroom.

An Abuja court decided on Friday that Gambaryan, representing Binance, may go to trial in the tax evasion case. In May, Binance CEO Richard Teng charged that Nigeria was creating a hazardous precedent when its executives were invited to the nation and subsequently taken into custody as part of an anti-crypto campaign. The business is contesting the proceedings because it is accused of money laundering and tax evasion.

Four charges of tax evasion are brought against Binance and its executives, Gambaryan and Nadeem Anjarwalla, a British Kenyan who serves as Binance’s regional manager for Africa. One of the charges is failing to register for taxes with the Federal Inland Revenue Service of Nigeria.

Despite Anjarwalla’s March escape from detention, the lawsuit still lists him as “at large,” which might delay the trial because Nigerian law mandates that all parties must be served before the case can move forward, according to Chukwuka Ikwuazom, the attorney for Gambaryan.

Moses Ideho, a revenue service attorney, stated that Gambaryan should have been brought before the court by the Nigerian jail service and that he was unaware of the reason for his absence. The potential arraignment of Binance and Gambaryan has been postponed until June 14 by Judge Emeka Nwite.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, has charged Binance and the executives with laundering over $35 million in addition to the tax evasion case. On Thursday, there will be a money laundering trial. In the wake of Gambaryan’s detention, Binance has declared that it is closely collaborating with Nigerian authorities.

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