Thursday, 21 May 2020

The crew of the UK-based Company, Flairjet plane impounded by the Federal Government on Sunday for breaching flight ban in the country has been quarantined in Lagos to ascertain if they have the dreaded coronavirus.

This is even as investigations into the incident by the Nigeria Civil Aviation Authority, NCAA, is still ongoing.

In a telephone chat with Vanguard yesterday, the Director of Information and Public Affairs, Ministry of Aviation, Dr James Odaudu, confirmed that investigation by the regulatory authority was still ongoing.

He also said the crew of the aircraft was currently undergoing the mandatory 14 days quarantine in Lagos where the aircraft landed. Meanwhile, NCAA yesterday said only the Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika, or Aviation Ministry officials could make public comments on the issue. The General Manager, Public Affairs, NCAA, Mr Sam Adurogboye, yesterday directed Vanguard to channel all enquires to the Minister or the Ministry officials.

Recall that the Flair Aviation aircraft operated a commercial flight into Nigeria, despite airspace closure in the country due to COVID-19 pandemic, when it was granted permit to operate a humanitarian flight. READ ALSO: FG impounds UK-based aviation company’s aircraft for violating flight ban Information available revealed that the aircraft, an Embraer Legacy 600, with the registration number G-ERFX and 13 passengers’ seats, piloted by Captain Andy Bell, had applied for humanitarian evacuation to London in support of the Federal Government’s efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on May 12, 2020.

A document showed that the “request was approved on May 13, 2020 by M.S. Noibi, the Director of Air Transport Management, Ministry of Aviation and notified all agencies available. “The aircraft, according to its flight plan, was scheduled to depart London Stansted Airport on Saturday 17, 2020 at 08:00hrs with the flight number FLJ611 and six passengers onboard. “It had a first landing at Alcante El Abet Airport in Spain with six passengers at 12:25hrs. From Spain, the jet departed for the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, MMIA, Lagos with the same flight number: FLJ611 and landed at the airport with seven passengers at 13:05hrs under the guise of essential flight.

“The jet was scheduled to leave Nigeria with seven passengers to Alcante El Abet airport in Spain at 20:20hrs and was to be handled by Execujet Aviation Nigeria Ltd at the Lagos Airport,’’ the document read.

It was when the plane landed in Nigeria that government officials discovered that the company actually operated commercial flight into Nigeria, with a plan to return with another seven passengers onboard.

The aircraft has been impounded by security officials while its cabin crew was arrested and interrogated by security agencies who accused them of flouting the approval given to them by the Nigerian authorities.

The Minister of Aviation, Senator Hadi Sirika, had in his official twitter handle, confirmed that the ministry gave the airline an approval for humanitarian operations only to be caught conducting commercial flights into the country.

Sirika twitted: “COVID-19. Flair Aviation, a UK company, was given approval for humanitarian operations, but regrettably we caught them conducting commercial flights. This is callous! The craft is impounded, crew being interrogated. There shall be maximum penalty. Wrong time to try our resolve!” Vanguard


Read more at: Vanguard

Published in Travel & Tourism

The world is anxiously waiting for the total tally of votes for all the seven Presidential candidates – only one of them will emerge as winner should he achieve the over 50% score.

However, the government has switched off electricity, internet and telecomes. Vote counting is taking place in utter darkness clearly making it possible for vote stuffing.

Results are underway as preliminary tally from various polling stations indicates Agathon Rwasa of CNL party is leading and CNDD-FDD in second position.

Reports have emerged that in some areas, polling stations opened as early as 4AM and Imbonerakure militia were allowed into the voting rooms. But the legal opening time is 6AM and voting ends at 4PM.

Social networking sites in the country have been inaccessible and making phone calls was very difficult.

“This is a clear sign that fraud has been planned. And the change is for tonight. We will all be witnesses to this despite this internet outage or all the other hassles,” said Agathon Rwasa the CNL candidate.

“Why cut communications when it is a right for every citizen? If medical or other intervention was required, how would we proceed with cut communications? If we call people to vote freely, we still have to respect their rights. It’s a shame it’s like this, but that will not prevent the turning point from coming true,” he said.

For Rwasa, his party agents are required to carefully count every ballot cast.

“It is from these reports, if the results seem false, that we will be able to appeal to the authorised bodies. We can’t talk about the verdict at the polls now. Wait for the count. If we are not satisfied, we will say so. If not, we will also say it because it is our right to appreciate or not what this process will have been,” he told press late Wednesday.

The elections are a triple ballot organised to elect the president, legislative representatives and municipal leaders.

Outgoing President Pierre Nkurunziza cast his vote at Buye, in Mwumba commune of Ngozi province. He says these elections are important for three main reasons.

“First, the elections have been financed entirely by the Burundian population. Which is a very good thing and a decisive step in the consolidation of democracy.”

Secondly he compared Wednesday elections to the previous (1965, 1993, 2005, 2010, 2015), “there was always a donor hand that demanded or imposed what should be done, and thereby created ambushes in the election results.”

Nkurunziza said the third reason is that the elections have been held when the Constitution of Burundi has been reformed.

The outgoing president has ruled Burundi with an iron fist and has been isolated further. He however, considers the country’s past political turmoil as a product of ignorance about elections.

“We are saying that those who created problems in the past did not understand the importance of elections,” he said Wednesday, adding that “we must always accept the verdict at the polls and understand that elections do not keep people alive. They allow us to have responsible leaders.”



Published in Economy

In East Africa, long-distance truckers are suspected of carrying the dreaded coronavirus along with their cargo. So for weeks, trucks have stalled at border crossings — with trucks sometimes stretching back hundreds deep at some points — as governments restrict access and implement mandatory COVID-19 testing to protect their residents.

“They are calling us ‘corona.’ We are not corona, and we have certificates on the vehicles, but they are still calling us corona. Why?” asked Muhammed Ali, a Tanzanian trucker halted last week at Uganda’s Mirama Hills border crossing with Rwanda. He carried a paper certifying he had tested negative for the virus.

With truck drivers seen as high-risk COVID-19 carriers after some cases were traced to them, the Kigali government ordered that they turn over their vehicles to Rwandan drivers in a system of relay driving. The other option was to offload merchandise onto Rwandan trucks.

Drivers from other countries refused, saying they had no authorization from their employers and could be held liable for any lost merchandise.

“We drivers don’t like that thing of handing the trucks to other drivers from Rwanda,” said Benjamin Ngugi, a Kenyan trucker also stalled at Mirama Hills.

As trucks stacked up for days, Rwanda and neighboring Tanzania worked out a deal that scrapped plans for relay drivers but mandated transferring cargo at the border, “except for trucks carrying perishable goods and petroleum products destined to Rwanda,” the Kigali government said in a news release Friday. Those “will be escorted at no cost to their final destinations.”

But tensions have escalated between Tanzania and neighboring Kenya over recent days.

Kenya last week began mandatory COVID-19 testing for truckers, ordering that they undergo tests 48 hours before leaving the Port of Mombasa — a shipping hub in the country’s second-largest city — or before entering Kenya from elsewhere in East Africa.

On Saturday, the Nairobi government closed entry points with Tanzania and Somalia, except for cargo trucks whose drivers have tested negative. In an apparent retaliatory move, Tanzania shuttered several crossings on its eastern side Monday.

Kenya's ambassador to Tanzania, Dan Kazungu, attempted to ease the situation Tuesday, saying at a news conference that leaders of the East African Community (EAC) were working together to address the region’s trucking industry problems.

But Wednesday, a day after Kenya announced the return of more than 180 foreigners to Tanzania because of positive COVID test results, a Tanzanian regional official accused the Nairobi government of faulty testing.

Mrisho Gambo, a commissioner in Tanzania’s northern Arusha region, said in a statement that 19 truckers who had tested positive in Kenya subsequently had negative results after retesting in his country. He accused Kenya of “a deliberate sabotage strategy” against tourism in his country, according to local news reports.

Zambia also had closed its border with Tanzania for several days last week after several truck drivers, immigration officers and sex workers tested positive for COVID, Reuters reported.

Several heads of state in the EAC bloc — including Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya and Salva Kiir of South Sudan — last week agreed to double testing of truckers. They will be allowed to drive through the EAC upon testing negative in their country of origin and at the border.

The leaders also agreed to adopt a harmonized system for certifying and sharing COVID-19 test results and other information. Kiir and his wife, Angelina Teny, who is Uganda’s defense minister, have tested positive for COVID, it was announced Tuesday.

East Africa

Transportation and trade barriers threaten to increase food insecurity in Africa, where an estimated one in five people already are malnourished, a World Health Organization official warned.

“Hunger and malnutrition heighten vulnerability to diseases, the consequences of which could be far-reaching if not properly addressed,” Dr. Matshidiso Moeti, director of the Africa regional office, said last week in a COVID-19 online news briefing organized by the World Economic Forum.

Speaking on the same panel, Chris Nikoi, the World Food Program’s regional director for West Africa, said border delays were “leading to increase in prices.” He said the WFP, part of the United Nations, was consulting with governments, agriculture and trade organizations to ensure that “the flow of food and goods is not overly restricted.”

Amid the pandemic, Nikoi added, “it becomes even more critical to allow trade and commerce to function in the most efficient manner.”


Source: VOA

Published in Business

10.4% more new Tesla were registered in Germany in April 2020 than in the same month of last year. This is in spite of the considerable overall cooling of the market in the face of the Corona crisis: across all manufacturers, 61.1% fewer vehicles were registered.

Tesla also stands out positively in other respects these days, as can be seen in a new infographic from

While Tesla was able to increase sales significantly, German carmakers reported a sharp decline. In April, 48.6% fewer Volkswagen vehicles took the roads in Germany than last year. Out of all brands, Smart saw the sharpest drop in registrations, with their market share falling by 94.1%. This was revealed by data from the Federal Motor Transport Authority.

A glance at share price performance for listed car manufacturers reveals a similar picture. While Tesla’s market capitalization has climbed by around 99% so far this year, Porsche, BMWVW and Daimler have all seen share prices fall.

Moderate Demand for Tesla Shares

Despite remarkable share price development as well as promising sales figures, the Google trend score for “Tesla shares“, a measure of relative search volume, is surprisingly low. On 15th May the score stood at 27, with a value of 100 representing the greatest possible interest.

As the infographics show, the electric pioneer sold more vehicles in the first quarter of 2020 than in the first quarter of any other year to date. 88,496 vehicles rolled onto the roads in the first three months of the year, compared to 63,019 last year and just 25,000 in 2017.

Tesla News Gives Grounds for Optimism

The Group recently announced news that has been positively received by many analysts. According to Reuters, Tesla is working on a battery that is expected to last around one million miles. This battery will be installed in the Model 3 series, possibly from as early as the beginning of 2021.

Even the competition is acknowledges Tesla’s know-how: VW boss Diess recently admitted that Tesla was miles ahead of Volkswagen in terms of software development.

Although we will have to wait and see if the rally will last, the company seems to have a lot going for it. For example, a survey by “Venson Automotive Solutions” revealed that 45% of Britons are reconsidering buying an electric car due to perceived air improvements during the lockdowns. Due to its market position, Tesla is well placed to benefit considerably from this.

Published in World
  1. Opinions and Analysis


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