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London coronavirus cases fall faster than all other regions as nine boroughs see 40% drop in infections



…The biggest decline was in Haringey with west London now the capital’s Covid hotspot

By Nicholas Cecil@nicholascecil

Covid-19 cases are falling fastest in London with nine boroughs seeing a weekly drop of more than 40 per cent, official figures reveal today.

They show the biggest decline was in Haringey with a fall of 44.8 per cent in confirmed cases in the week to February 5, with the seven-day rate down to 160.8 new infections per 100,000.

Hackney and the City of London saw a fall of 44.7 per cent and a rate of 135.5, Islington 44 per cent and a rate of 129.9, Southwark 43.6 per cent and a rate of 156.5, and Enfield 41.4 per cent and a rate of 185.4.

In Bromley, there was a drop of 41.4 per cent and a rate of 154.4, Lewisham 40.9 per cent and a rate of 171.3, Westminster 40.8 per cent and a rate of 132, and Tower Hamlets 40.5 per cent and a rate of 136.4.

Public health chiefs in London want the seven-day rate to get down below 100 before lockdown is eased and cases still need to fall significantly to achieve that in many boroughs.

West London is now the capital’s Covid hotspot, with Hounslow having a rate of 334.8, Ealing 328.5 and Hillingdon 300.5.

The levels are far below those of around 1,000 or more experienced by many boroughs in early January but also significantly higher than during last summer.

Nearly all the boroughs seeing the smallest declines are also in west London, with Richmond down 10.1 per cent in a week, Hounslow 23.5 per cent, Merton 24.5 per cent, Wandsworth 25.1 per cent, and Ealing 25.5 per cent.

However, the official figures show how London is driving down cases:

– Cases fell by at least a third in 21 boroughs in the week to February 5.

– Seventeen now have a seven-day rate which has dropped below 200, with the lowest in Camden at 113.

– Twelve have a rate between 200 and 300.

– A further 1,579 confirmed cases were announced for the capital on Wednesday, far below the five-figure totals being seen last month.

Pressure for return to tiers as London Covid cases carry on falling
Hospitals in the city still remain under huge pressure, with 4,574 Covid patients as of Tuesday, down from a peak of 7,917 on January 18.

There were 934 coronavirus patients so ill that they are on ventilators, a drop from figures above 1,200 in January.

Many hospitals have had to postpone non-urgent operations due to the epidemic and patients face even longer waiting lists for treatment.

The official figures also show Covid cases falling fastest in London, down 34.2 per cent in the week to February 5 and a rate of 204.2, followed by the South East down 32.2 per cent to a rate of 166.1, the East down 29.4 per cent to a rate of 194.8, and the South West down 28.5 per cent and a rate of 131.3.

The smallest drop was in Yorkshire and the Humber, down 12.3 per cent to a rate of 179.8, followed by the North East down 13 per cent to a rate of 212, the East Midlands down 15 per cent to a rate of 240.5, the North West down 20.7 per cent to a rate of 238.4 and the West Midlands down 21.2 per cent to a rate of 258.5.

The detailed data for London shows that in Haringey there were 432 cases in the week to February 5, down 351 (44.8%) with a seven-day rate of 160.8, Hackney and City of London 394 cases, down 319 (44.7%) rate 135.5, Islington 315 cases, down 248 (44%) rate 129.9, Southwark 499 cases, down 386 (43.6%) rate 156.5, Enfield 619 cases, down 438 (41.4%) rate 185.4, Bromley 513 cases, down 362 (41.4%) rate 154.4, Lewisham 524 cases, down 363 (40.9%) rate 171.3, Westminster 345 cases, down 238 (40.8%) rate 132, Tower Hamlets 443 cases, down 302 (40.5%) rate 136.4, Bexley 432 cases, down 262 (37.8%) rate 174, Barking and Dagenham 521 cases, down 313 (37.5%) rate 244.7, and Camden 305 cases, down 182 (37.4%) rate 113.

Waltham Forest saw 532 cases, down 315 (37.2%) rate 192.1, Harrow 604 cases, down 357 (37.1%) rate 240.5, Newham 863 cases, down 487 (36.1%) rate 244.4, Redbridge 665 cases, down 361 (35.2%) rate 217.9, Kingston 348 cases, down 187 (35%) rate 196, Croydon 817 cases, down 432 (34.6%) rate 211.3, Barnet 804 cases, down 411 (33.8%) rate 203.1, Brent 948 cases, down 485 (33.8%) rate 287.5, Greenwich 570 cases, down 285 (33.3%) rate 198,Lambeth 677 cases, down 328 (32.6%) rate 207.6, Hammersmith and Fulham 409 cases, down 187 (31.4%) rate 220.9,Kensington and Chelsea 236 cases, down 98 (29.3%) rate 151.2, Hillingdon 922 cases, down 377 (29%) rate 300.5,Havering 539 cases, down 210 (28%) rate 207.7, Ealing 1123 cases, down 385 (25.5%) rate 328.5, Wandsworth 599 cases, down 201 (25.1%) rate 181.7, Sutton 500 cases, down 165 (24.8%) rate 242.3, Merton 502 cases, down 163 (24.5%) rate 243, Hounslow 909 cases, down 279 (23.5%) rate 334.8, and Richmond 392 cases, down 44 (10.1%) rate 198.

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NPA vows to upgrade country’s maritime hub status



Rotimi Amaechi, Minister of Transportation

In a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos by NPA General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Mr Olaseni Alakija, Bello-Koko disclosed this in Abeokuta, Ogun,  at the first retreat for the reconstituted board of directors.

The theme of the retreat was “Expanding the Frontiers of Service Excellence.”

He noted that investments in modern deep seaports would attract very large merchant vessels with the attendant multiple socio-economic benefits, as well as boost port revenue performance.

The statement said Bello-Koko disclosed that a lot had been done, especially in the last few months, to resolve most of the identified constraints to the efficient movement of cargoes to and from ports.

Such efforts, he said, were in line with the new direction and measures being put in place to actualise NPA’s aspirations,

“Nigeria accounts for about 70 per cent of cargoes imported into West and Central Africa and the country controls an impressive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.

“Nigeria’s rich aquatic endowments and her border with landlocked nations makes development of deep seaports a huge potential revenue earner for the nation.

“The move towards earning the status of hub in the region is in line with our new vision statement.

“This was adopted at the recent NPA Management retreat with the theme ‘To Be The Maritime Logistics Hub For Sustainable Port System In Africa,” he said.

The statement said the acting managing director described the board retreat as very timely, as it signposts a unity of purpose and shared vision.

According to him, the vision is one in which the executive management works closely with every section, unit, department, division and directorate and embraces an all-inclusive strategic outcome for the organisation with the requisite buy-in of the board.

“In appreciation of this, I will like to crave the understanding of the board with regards to the executive management’s limitations in actualising some of our goals and objectives, which I am sure distinguished board members must have noticed in the course of the tour of ports that preceded this retreat,” he added.

The NPA boss informed the board that recent interventions made by the authority had led to significant improvement in terms of ship and cargo dwell time at the ports.

He, however, explained that some of the benchmarks which were yet to be achieved were dependent on “externalities and variables” that required concerted inter-agency actions.

He said that NPA, despite dogged efforts, has yet to optimally achieve the said benchmarks due to systemic administrative constraints and red-tape.

He enumerated the constraints as conflicting directives from the agencies operating within the ports and reporting to different supervising ministries with jurisdictional overlaps and duplications of functions.

He informed the board that concerted efforts were being made to expand NPA’s revenue streams, in addition to revenue from traditional port operations.

According to him, unlike the practice in sister Francophone countries where government funds the dredging of ports, the NPA was responsible for funding its.

This, he said, has put a lot of strains on its resources and capacity to invest in critical port infrastructure.

“We are facing decaying port infrastructure, for example, sections of the quay aprons or walls at the Tin Can Island Port, Onne, Delta and Calabar Ports are collapsing and require huge funds to repair them.

“With the increasing pressure to remit more revenue to the Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the federation, it has become very difficult to have sufficient funds to attend to these decaying facilities.

“There is then the need to explore alternative funding sources outside the traditional port service offerings,” he stated.

Bello-Koko explained that the authority was blessed with prime real estates which could serve as alternative funding sources outside the regular budget.

“NPA has a lot of high value landed properties in Onne, Snake Island, and Takwa Bay that are designated free trade zones.

* Apapa Wharf

“They are mostly allocated but burdened by poor arterial road network and other infrastructure to make them attractive for private investments which would bring good revenue to the authority and the Federal Government.

“Management will need the support of the board to drive the process of alternative revenue sources to actualise the lofty aspirations of the authority,” he said.

The Acting MD also disclosed that management had opened correspondence with some multilateral financial institutions such as the French Development Agency (AFD), African Development Bank (AfDB), European Investment Bank (EIB) and Sanlam Infraworks (a Central Bank of Nigeria approved fund manager for InfraCorp).

He explained that these were all part of plans to access long term low interest credits for port infrastructure upgrades and expansion.

“In making the Nigerian seaports more business friendly, we have been able to deploy technology to address the perennial traffic gridlock that has been frustrating the conduct of business around the Lagos ports corridor.

“A software application code named “eto” is gradually restoring sanity to trucking business despite the initial teething problems and resistance by vested interests hitherto profiting from the chaos.

“The authority has accredited 33 private truck terminals within the Lagos area, in addition to the Lily Pond Truck Transit Park and Tin Can Island Port Truck Transit Park, to ensure trucks do not park indiscriminately on the access roads.

“The trucks would only be allowed to transit to the port after obtaining electronic tickets via the “eto” call-up platform and the authority is collaborating with the Lagos State Government to ensure enforcement and compliance with the e-call up system, he said.

He added that other solutions being implemented was the push to link all seaports to the national rail network, as well as optimise the use of the inland waterways through the transfer of cargo or containers via barges.

Bello-Koko said that currently the authority was streamlining barge operations to ensure efficiency, safety and cost effective cargo delivery for increased port revenue.

He said that the Bonny Seaport project in Rivers, boosted by two major railway projects, would massively transform the economic landscape of the country, particularly the South-South and South-Eastern regions.

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BREAKING: Former CBN Deputy Governor Obadiah Mailafia Dies at 64



A former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Obadiah Mailafia, has passed on at the age of 64.

Mailafia, who was a columnist with The PUNCH was said to have died at midnight after a brief illness.

The former deputy governor, who was the Presidential candidate of the African Democratic Congress in the 2019 election, was a known government critic and had advocated for public sector and exchange rate reforms.

Mailafia was born on December 24, 1956, in the Sanga Local Government Area of Kaduna State.

He later graduated top of his class at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in 1978 with a First Class B.Sc.Honours Social Sciences degree (Politics, Economics, and Sociology). He also has an M.Sc. from the same institution.

He subsequently won a French Government Scholarship to France, where he earned a Certificate in French Language and Civilisation from the University of Clermont-Ferrand in 1985.

Mailafia later proceeded to the United Kingdom as a Foreign and Commonwealth Office Scholar at Oriel College, earning a DPhil from the University of Oxford in 1995.

He joined partisan politics in 2018 amid the rising killings in Southern Kaduna.

Despite losing, he remained an ardent government critic and got into trouble with the regime of the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), when he alleged that a northern governor was a Boko Haram commander.

This earned multiple invitations by the Nigeria Police Force, forcing him to recant his statement.

In his last interview with The PUNCH, Mailafia said the refusal of the CBN to sell foreign exchange to bureau de change operators may not yield the expected result because corrupt bankers would frustrate it while the BDC operators were being shielded by a “Jigawa cabal”.

He had also lamented that Nigeria was operating a “dollarised” economy which was hampering economic growth.

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