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LASG says no going back on styrofoam products ban

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The Lagos State Government says there is no going back on the total ban on the usage and distribution of styrofoam in the state.

The Commissioner for Environment and Water Resources, Mr Tokunbo Wahab, said this at a consultative meeting with the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) and Restaurant and Food Services Proprietors Association of Nigeria (REFSPAN), on Thursday in Lagos.

Wahab noted that enough damage had been done to the health of the people and the environment through the usage of styrofoam in the state.

“The only soft landing which the state is willing to offer all producers and distributors of styrofoam is to delay the enforcement of the ban by three weeks,” he said.

He said that three weeks were enough time for the products already in the state to be exhausted, if indeed the stockists were committed.

Wahab noted that the pronouncement on the ban of styrofoam was made over three years but was not enforced.

“You will all agree with me that for over three years this conversation has been ongoing, waiting for when the big bold step of enforcement will be taken,” Tokunbo said.

According to him, the number of lives that have been lost through the the use of styrofoam, the destruction of the ecosystem and aquatic lives as well as the menace brought upon the environment cannot be quantified.

“The lives of the residents are far more important than the profit the producers will make for the continuous production of styrofoam,” Wahab said.

According to him, the manufacturers appeal to put the ban on hold is like wanting people to take poison for a longer time in order to reduce their (manufacturers) commercial losses.

He maintained that the havoc and destruction caused to public utility by styrofoam products during and after the raining season was unimaginable.

Wahab stated that if the producers had been responsible enough to respect the law, government would not have to wade into the matter.

According to him, government is putting a human face to this ban by giving three weeks moratorium to producers and entrepreneurs in the hospitality business.

He urged them to bear in mind that leadership and governance involves making tough decisions.

He said producers have a responsibility to the society, adding that  none of them had taken steps to conduct an environmental impact assessment before commencement of production for public use.

He said the conversation about other types of single use plastics would continue until a workable solution was reached leading to their ban.

Similarly, the Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Dr Gaji Tajudeen, noted that the decision to ban the product was reached following the menace caused by the use of styrofoam in the environment.

He said that the product was not recyclable and would remain the same after 100 years.

He added that styrofoam was hazardous to wild and aquatic life and animals often mistake them for food.

Also, speaking, the Managing Director, Lagos Waste Management Authority ( LAWMA), Dr Muyiwa Gbadegeshin, said the government could no longer continue to watch styrofoam packs clog the drainage channels.

Gbadegeshin said that the plastic product was dangerous to human health.

“It will be irresponsible for government to sit and fold its hands because the cost of clearing those packs from tertiary, secondary and primary drains is very expensive,” Gbadegesin said.

The representatives of MAN, Mr Okpe Sunday and REFSPAN, Mr Olaoye Kazeem, pleaded for leniency and for time to allow them to use existing stock before enforcement.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state government on Jan. 21, 2024 announced a ban on the use and distribution of styrofoam and other single- use plastics with immediate effect.

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NASENI lauds Gov. Idris for allocating land for Agric. Institute construction

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The National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure, (NASENI), has commended Gov. Nasir Idris of Kebbi for donating 10 hectares of land to the agency for the construction of an Agricultural Machinery Development Institute in the state.
The Director of Procurement of the Agency, Dr Muhammad Aliyu, gave the commendation after formal allocation of the land to  NASENI by officials of state government on Sunday in Birnin Kebbi.
Aliyu, who thanked Idris for providing the land at a choice area, explained that the  project would commence within the next two weeks.
H e assured that all engineering, architectural, civil and electrical designs had been completed.
”We have the bill of quantity ready and every approval needed from the government for the project has been obtained,” he said.
The director affirmed that funding for the project had been captured in the 2024 appropriation bill already assented to by  President Bola Tinubu.
”We will start with what we can accommodate this year and we will continue next year.
“We have funds to begin the basic infrastructural construction,” he assured.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet Office, Alhaji Dahiru Zaki, who led other state government officials to hand over the 10 hectares of land to NASENI, explained that the land was earmarked for the agency in 2022 for the construction of the agricultural machinery center.
”The machinery center is to serve as a Regional Office for the production of agricultural equipment and we are happy that today, we have handed over the land to NASENI.
“I believe that Kebbi was selected in the North-West region because of its huge potentials in agriculture, particularly rice production and other crops,” he said.
Zaki expressed appreciation for the governor’s  kind gesture to the agency, tailored to provide job opportunities to youths and further bolster agricultural production in the state.
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Lassa Fever outbreak at Army Hospital sparks response 

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The recent outbreak of Lassa fever at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, prompted a collaborative response with Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital (ISTH) and Federal Ministry of Health.

Prof. Reuben Eifediyi, Chief Medical Director, Irrua Specialist Teaching Hospital, and lead of the response team, said this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday in Abuja.

The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (NCDC), confirmed that Lassa Fever was responsible for the death of three health workers and one patient at the 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital, Kaduna, (44 NARHK).

Four of the six blood samples from suspected cases at the hospital sent to the Bayero University Teaching Hospital, Kano, were confirmed for Lassa Fever.

While 25 close contacts of all the cases were being monitored and were placed on prophylactics (preventive medication). 

Eifediyi said that the outbreak resulted in the deployment of a specialised emergency response team, which was made up of experts in Lassa fever management and infection prevention.

He said that though there were initial challenges, including inadequate resources and staffing, the response team successfully contained the outbreak through real-time laboratory testing, isolation, and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Real-time PCR testing was conducted, leading to the identification and treatment of confirmed cases.

“Three confirmed cases were successfully treated and discharged, with no further fatalities, “ he said.

He said that the incident underscored the importance of effective partnerships and rapid mobilisation of expertise in addressing public health emergencies.

He said that health workers at the hospital went through training on Infection Prevention and Control (IPC), measures.

He recommended structural improvement, staffing, training, equipment provision, and hygienic measures.

He also made recommendations for capacity building and the establishment of a biosafety molecular laboratory at the hospital.

 Lassa fever is an acute viral hemorrhagic illness transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents or contaminated persons.

Its symptoms include fever, headache, sore throat, general body weakness, cough, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, muscle pain, chest pain.

In severe case, there are unexplainable bleeding from ears, eyes, nose, mouth, and other body openings.

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Why some airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace – NAMA

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Many airlines are avoiding Nigeria’s airspace because of difficulties encountered in communication with air traffic controllers, the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) confirmed on Sunday in Lagos.

Its Managing Director, Mr Farouk Umar, told newsmen at Ikeja that the agency was consequently eyeing more investments to rejuvenate the communication systems to match emerging air traffic trends.

He explained that there was the need to improve the weak communication system, which had been demand-saturated as the industry grew and more routes were opened.

He said huge investments were required of the Federal Government as more routes opened needing more stations to have signals to cover the entire country.

He added that the presidency recently budgeted N40 billion to address some of the issues at the airports, but the money had not been accessed.

Umar assured that as soon as money was made available, the agency would tackle critical safety challenges at the various airports.

“The entire communication network has been re-designed to ensure that every blind spot is covered because if one system fails today, air traffic controllers would not notice.

“We realised also that our radios are working well and well-positioned and we have addressed the challenges we met on ground, but then, we are still having issues.

“The issues have nothing to do with our radios, but with electricity supply which had been a national challenge that government had been working assiduously to fix.

“We have decided to deploy solar energy to some of our facilities to complement electricity supply from the national grid and from generators so that they can function well,’’ he said.

Umar noted that the International Civil Aviation Organisation frowned at even a second’s blackout at any airport and Nigeria could not afford to flout the regulation.

“For an average electronic system, the lifespan is about 10 years. Most of the communications electronics at the airports have been working for the past 15 years to 20 years. Their performance would be below standard, expectedly.

“We are replacing some of the equipment and we have done almost 80 per cent. The contractors are still working, however,’’ he assured.

Umar also told newsmen that Terminal Control Centres (TRACON) were still having challenges because since 2014, there had not been enough spare parts to fix the obsolete equipment there.

“The Federal Government has approved the modernisation of the TRACON system. 15 per cent of the fund has been paid and we are hopeful that more installations will start soon.

“We are also hopeful that at the end of it all, the system will go back to optimal performance,’’ he said.

Umar lamented that NAMA had been charging airlines N11,000 as navigation fee per flight since 2008 when fares for local flights were N16,000, whereas airfares had risen to N150,000.

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