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Zimbabwean govt urges citizens to cycle to work amid fuel scarcity

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Zimbabwean govt urges The Zimbabwean government has urged citizens to consider commuting with bicycles to work as the country grapples with a broken public transit system, poor road conditions, fuel shortages and low salaries.

The Mayor of Harare, Jacob Mafume, who made the passionate appeal in a broadcast, called on his countrymen consider other benefits of cycling to work and their business locations ostensibly for “health reasons and to promote a clean environment, as bicycles do not use fossil fuels.”

He stated that if Zimbabweans in greater numbers chose to cycle to work, there would be less congestion and fewer road accidents, among other benefits.

“Most of the health problems that we have in society now is that we are sitting all the time. We sit at work. We sit in the car, as we drive there. So it does not help as a society to be built on unhealthy practices,” Mafume said.

“But also, it is also cheaper on the budget: people can focus on other issues like housing, education and even investment, if they are on bicycles.

“And also, it is environmentally friendly. It is less impact on our environment. And people would thank us later for this, as they will live to ripe old age in fitness,” the Mayor added.

Mayor Mafume said though he is aware of the dilapidated state of cycling lanes in the capital city, the measure will further reduce the pressure on the roads and allow government to revamp them.

“We are going to revamp them. One of the issues that we have to do is to put a cycle track running across Harare Drive. Once we have a cycle track circling the city, then all the other cycle tracks can fit into Harare Drive.”

Some Harare residents who seem to buy into the cycling culture, later told journalists that if many people take to the advice, it will portend a new direction for the country.

Ngoni Nyamadzawo, a part-time gardener in Harare’s affluent suburbs, says he cycles daily as a way to reduce costs to save his average salary of $150 a month.

“I see cycling as a saving measure. If I did not cycle, I would use $30 a month for transport,” Nyamadzawo said.

Segio Tarwirei who works for a local NGO, Tree Knowers and Growers, which advocates for more trees, says he cycles daily and encourages Zimbabweans to join him.

“Cycling has so many physical benefits. Driving is not good for the environment as cars release dirt into the atmosphere.

“As an organization of Tree Knowers and Growers, we encourage people to cycle. If I was using public transport, I would be paying $4 daily, at the end of the month it would be a lot of money, so cycling is good for health and the pocket.”

Tarwirei said he would like the city of Harare to rehabilitate cycling tracks, which have been neglected for years.

Metro

Over 10 million people displaced by Sudan war— IOM

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The International Organization for Migration (IOM) reported that as the world’s worst displacement crisis worsens in Sudan, almost 10 million, which is about 20% of the country’s population, have been forced from their homes since the conflict there started.

This is the most recent alarming estimate from the nation in East Africa, which has been destroyed by fighting that started in April 2023. The majority of the nation, around 50 million people, are now in need of humanitarian help and half of them are experiencing starvation as a result of the war.

According to a bimonthly report from the IOM, since the start of the conflict, over 2.2 million people have fled to foreign nations and about 7.8 million have sought safety within the nation. Previous conflicts in the country have already resulted in the displacement of an additional 2.8 million people.

When fighting broke out between the army and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) in the capital city of Khartoum last year, it soon spread to the west throughout Darfur, with the RSF seizing control of most of the major cities.

Some UN experts have argued that the main cause of migration from Darfur—where it is impossible to provide aid—is now hunger rather than conflict.

“All refugees I met said the reason why they fled Sudan was hunger,” said World Health Organisation country director Dr. Shible Sahbani to reporters after visiting refugees from Darfur, the source of half of the displaced population, in Chad.

“A woman who just reached Adré reported that all food they used to produce locally in Darfur was taken by the fighters,” he added.

More than 150,000 people were displaced from Sennar state as the RSF extended its reach in the southeast of the nation in recent weeks, according to the IOM. Many of these individuals were relocated for the second or third time following RSF attacks on houses and marketplaces in the state’s minor towns and villages.

The RSF blames the activities of rogue actors and disputes that it has harmed civilians.

RSF forces have conducted incursions in Gedaref state, home to 668,000 people who are facing heavy rains and no shelter. This state is currently hosting a large number of displaced persons.

Human Rights Watch issued a warning last week about the risk of the RSF expanding into the Gedaref for the 40,000 Ethiopian refugees, most of whom are Tigrayans, who are alleged by the RSF to be fighting alongside the army.

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Nigerian govt to spend N3tn on new minimum wage, pensions, gratuities— Minister

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Nigeria’s Minister of Budget and Economic Planning, Atiku Bagudu, on Friday, disclosed that the Federal Government would spend N3 trillion on the new minimum wage as well on payment of pensions and gratuities.

The minister made the disclosure during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Appropriations chaired by Olamilekan Adeola, while presenting the general principles of the newly amended 2024 budget to the committee at the meeting.

During the meeting with the Committee, Bagudu highlighted that the new budget additions would not be funded by loans but by an already reserved profit.

He further explained that priorities were given to projects that would open up roads for investments and emergencies, while other road projects would be addressed in subsequent batches.

He also stated that the country’s historical underinvestment in infrastructure was a root cause of recent problems and commended President Bola Tinubu for addressing the infrastructure deficit.

Bagudu told the Committee that the recurrent budget of N3tn will fund the minimum wage, pensions, and gratuities, while the capital component of N3.2tn will augment existing road projects on state and federal routes, including coastal roads, the Sokoto-Badagry road, railway construction, and dam irrigation.

Recall that the Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) had on Thursday, accepted the N70,000 minimum wage proposed by Tinubu, saying it was an act of solidarity.

The union, in a statement signed by its National President, Joe Ajaero, at the end of its National Executive Council meeting, affirmed that the NLC would continue to defend the rights of Nigerian workers at all times.

“NEC-in-session concluded that this decision, though challenging and far from our initial demand, was made in the spirit of solidarity and sacrifice for the Nigerian masses to avert a threatened further hike in the price of petrol, which would inflict more hardship on the already suffering masses.

“Once again, NEC-in-session restates the commitment of the NLC to continue standing resolutely in its mission to defend and advance the rights of Nigerian workers and the Nigerian people at all times.

“It therefore calls on all Nigerians to unite in this cause and to hold our leaders accountable to the same standards of sacrifice and service.”

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