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Anti-graft Hammer Falls On Power Sector As Court Jails Ex-MD, 4 Others

The present administration’s war on corruption recorded major success in the power sector with the jailing of a former MD and four top officials of the Rural Electrification Agency (REA). They were convicted for their involvement in a N5.2billion rural electrification project contract scam.

They were jailed at the weekend by Justice Adebukola Banjoko of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, Abuja.

The convicts are the agency’s former managing director, Engr. Samuel Ibi Gekpe, Simon Kirdi Nanle, an accountant, Engr. Kayode Orekoya, director of Projects, Abdulsamad Garba Hahun, an assistant director and Kayode Oyedeji, head of Legal Department.

Justice Banjoko, however, absolved a former permanent secretary in the Ministry of Power, Dr. Abdullahi Aliyu, of any wrongdoing in the N5.2billion fraud, for which Gekpe and the other officials were found guilty.

They were found guilty of all the 65-count charge preferred against them by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Aliyu and the convicted officials were prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly defrauding the federal government of N5.2billion.

Specifically, the defendants were charged to court for criminal breach of trust, which they perpetrated by awarding contracts for grid extension and solar electricity from the amended 2008 budget of REA.

The court had upheld the “no-case” submission by Aliyu on appeal and was subsequently discharged and acquitted.

In the judgement delivered on Friday, Justice Banjoko dismissed the application of Gekpe, the first defendant, where he challenged the jurisdiction of the court to hear the case.

On the substantive charge, the court noted that the prosecution had established by way of evidence, all ingredients of the offences levelled against the defendants.

The judge held that the matter was a clear manifestation of dishonesty as the contract awards were well crafted to boycott laid down process.

Banjoko, however, noted that the federal government did not incur any loss and that the prosecution could not prove that the defendants diverted the funds meant for rural electrification to their personal use.

Accordingly, the defendants were convicted and sentenced. The 1st defendant was sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N5million fine payable within one month, while the 3rd- 6th defendants were sentenced to three years imprisonment with an option of N500,000 fine each.

The permanent secretary and the directors were accused of fraudulently facilitating the withdrawal of the sum of N119.7million from the account of the REA, domiciled in the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

Seven storey building collapses in Cambodia

A seven-story building has collapsed in Cambodia, killing three people with others reported missing.

The under-construction building in the coastal city of Sihanoukville was owned by a Chinese company.

“We have pulled out a body and we see two more bodies still stuck between debris,” provincial governor Yun Min said.

In recent years, Sihanoukville has been transformed through the construction of Chinese hotels and casinos.

The three confirmed dead were all Cambodian, two workers and a translator.

Reports vary on the number of people missing as rescue efforts continue.

Information Minister Khieu Kanharith said that “more than 30” were unaccounted for, while the Labour Ministry said it could be fewer than 10.

The provincial governor said 20 had been rescued and that around 50 workers would usually be on site at that time.

No reason
A reason for the collapse has not yet been given, but the city police chief said a Chinese woman was being “detained for questioning.”

The once small fishing village saw a boom in tourism in the 2000s, mostly from Western backpackers and holidaymakers.

The last three years has seen the area change beyond recognition, with the construction of dozens of casinos catering almost solely to Chinese tourists.

Source: BBC/Nneka Ukachukwu

SON is inefficient, MAN tells Buhari

The Manufacturers Association of Nigeria (MAN) has advised the federal government to re-examine the mandate of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON).

The association made this recommendation on the premise that substandard goods have flooded the Nigerian market despite statutory fees paid to the SON.

MAN had, on Wednesday, paid an advocacy visit to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa in Aso Rock, Abuja.

“SON is the sole agency saddled with the responsibility of ensuring only legitimate products are allowed into Nigeria,” it said in a document made available to TheCable where the submissions made to the president were listed.

“Unfortunately, presently in Nigeria, there are multibillion-naira value of various substandard products freely being traded in Nigerian markets and causing the collapse of many Nigerian industries.

“It is the statutory operating standard of SON to issue Product Certificate (PC) to Offshore Exporters to Nigeria for a Fee in order to confirm standards of products being exported into Nigeria and also issue Standards Organization of Nigeria Conformity Assessment Program (SONCAP) to the importer for a Fee to validate that products being shipped meet NIS Standards.

“Despite the payment of these statutory fees by Offshore Exporters and Nigerian importers, Nigerian markets today are increasingly dominated by substandard imported products constantly sabotaging the economy and running down many industries such like Textile, Tyres, Cable and recently Steel.

 

Using aluminium products as an example, MAN alleged that aluminium with thickness as low as 0.25mm are being imported while the approved minimum thickness for local manufacturers is 0.40mm.

“Similarly, the approved minimum thickness for aluminium profile manufactured in the country is 1mm whereas imported profiles with gauges as low as 0.7mm thickness have flooded the markets,” the document signed by Mansur Ahmed (pictured), MAN president, said.

“These unfair trade practices are having a devastating effect on aluminium manufacturers, as many have shut down operations with others on the waiting wing.”

The association also said that it has sent a list of 93 items to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to add to the list of items banned from accessing forex.

On the proposed increase of value-added tax, the association said: “We are concerned that any increase in VAT at this period when household consumption is barely recovering will have a depressing effect on the economy at large.

“VAT directly limits the purchasing power of consumers and their choice of products; creates a greater market for smuggled goods; lowers consumption; decreases capacity and production frontier of the economy; and may lower government revenue.”

MAN advised that the Federal Inland Revenue (FIRS) put in place a structure that will take more taxes from the poor by increasing VAT on luxury goods.

Source: The Cable Ng

10 Sustainable Houses You Would Love to Live in

By now, everyone has probably heard of sustainability as a design trend. It seems, though, that many people share a common belief that living in sustainable houses or dressing in sustainable clothes would be a set back from the comfortable and modern lifestyle they have got used to. So, is this true? Well, one thing we know for sure is that if we keep up with our ways and ignore the warning calls of nature, we will definitely lose all the comforts we have become accustomed to, and there will be no way back. As for the previous question, you can give an answer yourself after checking this collection of outstanding sustainable houses from all over the world. Wouldn’t you like to live in any of these? Well, let’s see.

1-Slip House – Carl Turner Architects

This is a 200-square-meter house in South London’s Brixton area. The house is composed of three stacked boxes, slightly shifted from one another and all clad in translucent glass planks. It is provided with solar-assisted heat pumps for indoor thermal comfort, mechanical ventilation, and photovoltaic cells, in addition to a rainwater harvesting system.

Courtesy of  Carl Turner Architects - Photography: Tim Crocker

2-ZEB Pilot House – Snøhetta

This house in Larvik, Norway, is of total area 220sqm. It features a distinctive tilt towards the southeast, with solar panels covering its sloped roof. It has underground energy wells to compliment the house’s needs of energy and more. The house’s geometry, orientation, and glass panels’ placement are adjusted to achieve passive heating and cooling. Also, its interior finishes are carefully selected for enhanced indoor climate and air quality.

Courtesy of Snøhetta - Photography:  Bruce Damonte

3-Fall House – Fougeron Architecture

The three-bedroom house, on California’s southern coast stretch of Big Sur, is embedded in the sloping land towards the water surface. Its high-performance glass skin provides maximized views of the ocean and surrounding nature as well as daylight access to all rooms while reducing solar heat gain.

Radiant hydronic heating is used to maintain thermal comfort for the entire house whose layout, also, promotes stack ventilation, another energy efficient method to improve indoor climate.

Courtesy of Fougeron Architecture - Photography: Joe Fletcher Photography
4-Haus W – by Kraus Schoenberg

There is another house embedded in the sloping grass-covered ground, but in Hamburg, Germany. Haus W is a 2-storey prefabricated and low-energy house. It has an all-around glazed ground floor viewing the sloping garden, and a first floor that is clad in sustainable white painted timber. The CNC-cut timber provides indoor thermal comfort by insulation and it is, also, recyclable.

Courtesy of Kraus Schoenberg Architects - Photography: Ioana Marinescu

5-MO House – by FRPO

The single family house is located in a forest on the outskirts of Madrid, Spain. The disaggregated design of the house was derived from the desire to integrate it with the forest, placing box-like masses in the gaps between the trees. The house is constructed from the light cross-laminated wood panel, eliminating the need for deep foundation and providing thermal insulation.

Courtesy of FRPO - Photography: Miguel de Guzmán

6-Edgeland House – by Bercy Chen Studio

Edgeland House is located on a reclaimed brownfield site in Austin, Texas. Its design was inspired by the vernacular pit houses of Native Americans. The house comprises two green-roofed wings which shade each other from the sun. A linear courtyard extends between both wings, permitting air flow. The house is designed to leave minimal impact on the site. Its sloped green roofs are meant to heal and restore wildlife to the deserted scarred land.

Courtesy of Bercy Chen Studio - Photography: Paul Bardagjy

7-Casa Nirau – by Paul Cremoux Studio

Casa Nirau is an upgraded 2-storey family house in Mexico City. Its area was reduced from 2,754 sqft to 1,937 sqft, to minimize its footprint, and so its indoor spaces were redistributed. The energy-efficient house consumes a monthly $15 value of electricity and natural gas. It, also, employs a rainwater harvesting system which utilizes carbon-activated filters to convert the water collected by the roof and terrace into drinkable water.

Courtesy of Paul Cremoux Studio - Image via freshome.com

8-Caruth Boulevard Residence – by Tom Reisenbichler |

Perkins + Williams

The Gold LEED certified residence is located in Dallas, Texas. Its elegant design merges between luxurious and sustainable housing. The house is built to fit in between the already existing trees on the site. It features sleek horizontal planes and lines which variously repeat all over the façade to highlight the surrounding trees. The house is, also, provided with photovoltaic cells and drought-resistant landscape plants, in addition to incorporating recycled materials in its finishes.

Courtesy of Tom Reisenbichler - Photography:  Bret Janak

9-House by the Pond – by Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects

The L-shaped 2-storey house in Water Mills, New York, takes the form of a perfect rectangle by adding the backyard deck and vast pool to its layout. With a lake to its south, the design of the house guarantees maximized views of both adjacent water surfaces by widely using energy efficient glass panels. These, in addition to the clerestory windows, provide sufficient natural light, and sunshades are used to minimize the solar heat gain in summer and preserve it in winter.

Courtesy of Stelle Lomont Rouhani Architects - Photography: Mathew Carbone

10-OUTrial House – by KWK PROMES

OUTrial House is located on a 1,440-square-meter site in Książenice, Poland. The house itself has a total area of 180sqm. It is carved into the grass-covered site, such that part of the ground is raised to act as a green roof for the house, providing it with natural insulation all year around. The floor-to-ceiling glass panels, used extensively on the ground floor, let in the natural light and allow pleasant views of the surrounding greenery.

Courtesy of KWK PROMES

Source: Arch20
family homes funds

FG to inaugurate SEC board Monday

The Federal Government will on Monday inaugurate the board of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to be chaired by Mr Olufemi Lijadu. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the board’s constitution is coming four years after President Muhammadu Buhari sacked the former SEC board headed by Mr Peter Obi.

A senior management source who pleaded anonymity confirmed the constitution and inauguration to NAN in Lagos. The source said that the inauguration would take place at the Ministry of Finance Headquarters, Abuja, and would be conducted by the permanent secretary. ADVERTISEMENT The source said that Lijadu, who hails from from Ogun, had been announced as the commission’s chairman.

According to him, other members of rhe board include Mr Lamido Yuguda from Gombe State (Non-executive Commissioner), Mrs Rekiya Ladi (Kaduna) Non-executive Commissioner and Mr Okokon Ekanem, representing Ministry of Finance. The others include Dr Alvan Ikoku, representing the Central Bank of Nigeria, Ms Mary Uduk, SEC’s Acting Director-General, and Mr Henry Rowlands, SEC’s Acting Executive Commissioner, Corporate Services. The other members of the board from SEC are Mr Isyaku Tilde, Acting Executive Commissioner (Operations), and Mr Reginald Karawusa, SEC’s Acting Executive Commissioner (Legal and Enforcement).

The board will have a four-year tenure, according to the source. NAN reports that President Muhammadu Buhari dissolved the previous board on July 16, 2015, and set up an eight-man panel headed by a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr Babachir Lawal, two months later, to reconstitute it. Market operators had been calling for the reconstitution of the board to strengthen SEC’s operations.

The Chief Operating Officer, InvestData, Mr Ambrose Omordion, told the News Agency of Nigeria that non reconstitution of the board for over three years had implications for operational efficiency of the apex capital market regulator. He said that the situation was affecting some operational activities of the commission, thereby dampening investor confidence.

Omordion told NAN that SEC needed to be strengthened with appointment of board of directors for its growth and the development of the capital market. Omordion, who commended Uduk for achievements recorded so far in the commission in spite of being in acting capacity, called for her confirmation. He said that the management team of the commission should be confirmed by the government with immediate effect to avoid excesses in the market.

Source: News Agency  of Nigeria(NAN)

Kudimoney Gets CBN’s MFB Licence, Rebrands

A local financial technology (fintech) company, Kudimoney, has obtained a microfinance digital banking licence from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

In preparation to the launch of its full digital no-fee bank, the company has changed its name to Kuda Microfinance Bank.

With this, the fintech firm can offer current accounts as well as debit cards – something it is already doing with a small group of alpha users.

Founders of the company, Babs Ogundeyi and Musty Omotosho, explained that Kuda will offer frustrated consumers a more mobile, modern approach to traditional banking.

Unlike traditional banks, Kuda does not rely on banking fees, doesn’t profit from members’ misfortune or mistakes, and actually helps members get ahead financially.

Kuda members receive a debit card, a Spending & Savings Account, and an app that keeps them in control of their finances at all times, no matter where they are located.

“We’re excited to usher in a new era in consumer banking and serve the many Africans, who we believe are frustrated with traditional banks,” said Ogundeyi, co-founder & CEO of Kuda.

“Starting with Nigeria, we’ll launch a new kind of bank with a continued focus on improving our members’ financial lives rather than trying to burden them with hidden fees and excessive charges.” he added.

Source: Business Post Ng

Luxury homes in South Africa are now selling for a ‘bargain’

Luxury home prices are generally declining in many of South Africa’s most sought-after suburbs, and sellers are more willing to negotiate.

Citing recent FNB statistics, the property group noted that the rate of home price growth on the Atlantic Seaboard – South Africa’s most expensive area – has dropped from a high of 25.5% in the first quarter of 2016 to -5.1% in the first quarter of 2019.

“The rate of home price growth on the Atlantic Seaboard, which is South Africa’s most expensive area, has fallen from a high of 25.5% in the first quarter of 2016 to -5.1% in the first quarter of this year,” said Rory O’Hagan, head of the luxury portfolio division of the Chas Everitt International property group.

“House prices in the Southern Suburbs, including areas like Constantia, Bishopscourt, Newlands and Claremont are currently declining at the rate of 2.4% a year, after reaching a peak annual growth rate of 15.4% in 2015.”

O’Hagan said that he has seen similar drops in Gauteng and other parts of the country.

In Hyde Park, for example, brand new cluster homes that were on for sale at R28 million are now priced at R20 million, and a home originally listed for R19 million is now available for R15 million, he said.

“Our luxury portfolio teams in estates such as Val de Vie in the Cape Winelands and Zimbali on the KZN North Coast report a similar trend, with asking prices on specific homes dropping in the past month from R16.9 million to R13 million; from R15.9 million to R12 million; and from R13.9 million to R11.5 million.”

O’Hagan said that for luxury buyers planning to upgrade to a bigger property can acquire more home for their money in the current market. He said that appetite for luxury property around the world – including South Africa – is currently also being boosted by volatility in equity markets, which traditionally prompts investors to turn to brick and mortar.

“Locally, it seems that there may be an interest rate cut in July which would further boost demand but as things stand, we are already seeing a positive response to the lower prices in many of our heritage suburbs,” he said.

However, he noted that sales have been more muted in the country’s estates. “But our teams report increasing interest and we believe they will shortly also start to show a significant upturn in sales, especially following the assurances given in the state of the nation that there will be no interference with the independence of the Reserve Bank and that land reform will take place in an orderly manner,” O’Hagan said.

Source: Business Tech Co Za

CBN offers corps members loans for a 7-year tenor

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has promised to offer loans to the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) members for a 7-year tenor. The loan is intended for the purpose of establishment of small and medium scale enterprises.

This was disclosed by the Central Bank Governor, Godwin Emefiele, in his office while receiving the Director-General of the NYSC, Brig. Shuaibu Ibrahim, in Abuja.

CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele and NYSC Dir-Gen. Brig. Shuaibu Ibrahim

The Aim: Emefiele noted that the loan disbursement was developed out of the need to curb the rate of unemployment in the country. He advised that corps members should attend the bank’s entrepreneurship training centres for skills acquisitions in various vocational areas for economic survival after passing out from the service scheme.

The CBN Governor added that the loans would be disbursed to the corps members to provide the needed support to the rent of business offices or workshop and also to acquiring working tools.

The Central Bank of Nigeria has expressed willingness to provide further opportunities of self-employment for corps members through its skill acquisition training. The CBN governor explained that upon completion of training, beneficiaries would get the cumulative value which represents a loan that would be repaid within seven years with a two-year moratorium.”

The Central Bank Governor further hinted that an entrepreneurship program “Youth Entrepreneurship Development Program (YEDP)” was launched by the bank in 2016, and has served as a propelling platform to the empowerment of youth corps members and other youths across the country for the purpose of wealth creation and self-employment.

Emefiele promised that the CBN National Microfinance Bank will support any corps member who is interested in financing their business.

Collaborative Youth Empowerment: In his response, Brig. Shuaibu Ibrahim of the NYSC said the visit was intended to enhance more robust collaborations with the Central Bank in the area of empowering youth corps entrepreneurs while requesting for the apex bank’s support in providing more skills acquisitions centres across all zones and modern equipment for the NYSC farms located in various parts of the country.

The Bottom line: Entrepreneurship is the driving force of any developing economy. This is why this collaborative effort between the CBN and NYSC is a positive step towards capacity development. It will help to curb the high rate of unemployment in the country.

Source: Naira Metrics

The Relationship between Transit and Land Use

It is usually seen that land use changes with better transportation facility and at the same time improvement in transportation facility in an area has effect on land use. This is a kind of cycle which keeps on repeating itself. Here we have tried to explain the relationship between transit and land use in context of Transit Oriented Development. Transportation decisions affect land use patterns and resulting economic, social and environmental impacts. These include direct impacts on land used for transportation facilities, and indirect impacts caused by changes to land use development patterns.

Though,  Transit Oriented Development  (TOD) remains primarily a transport problem involving transit network design, effective transfer between nodes and scheduling, it is related directly to compact development principles as TOD efficiencies are achieved through densification of urban nodes (Cervero and Kockelman, 1997: 17) resulting in modal shift from automobile to transit, and mixed use development.(Cervero 1996; Nelson, Niles et al., 2001: 48)

In particular, certain transportation planning decisions tend to increase sprawl while others support smart growth. Land use patterns can have diverse economic, social and environmental impacts: some require less impervious surface per capita and so preserve more open space, and some are more accessible and so reduce transportation costs to businesses and consumers. Transportation planning decisions influence land use directly, by affecting the amount of land used for transport facilities, and indirectly, by affecting the location and design of development.
For example, expanding urban highways increases pavement area, and by increasing urban fringe vehicle access encourages more dispersed, automobile-oriented development, commonly called sprawl, while walking, cycling and public transit improvements encourage compact, infill development, commonly called smart growth.
For example, infill development tends to increase impervious surface coverage within existing urban areas, but by reducing lower-density urban fringe development are reducing per captia road and parking supply, it tends to reduces per capita and total regional impervious surface area. Sprawl refers to dispersed development in low-density, single-use,automobile-dependent development areas outside of any city or town; population growth in cities and towns outside existing cities is not necessarily sprawl if the development pattern reflects smart growth principles.
Transportation planning decisions affect land use, both directly by determining which land is devoted to transport facilities such as roads, parking lots, and ports, and indirectly by affecting the relative accessibility and development costs in different locations.
In general, policies that reduce the generalized cost (financial costs, travel time, discomfort, risk) of automobile travel tend to increase total traffic and sprawl, while those that improve non-motorized and transit travel tend to support smart growth. Planning decisions often involve trade offs between mobility and accessibility.By increasing the amount of land required for a given amount of development, generous road and parking requirements favor urban fringe development, where land prices are lower.
It can be difficult to determine the exact land use impacts of a particular transport planning decision, particularly indirect, long-term impacts. Impacts are affected by factors such as the relative demand for different types of development, the degree to which a particular transportation project will improve accessibility and reduce costs, and how a transportation policy or project integrates with other factors.
Conversely, if there is significant unmet demand for transit-oriented development, improving transit service and implementing supportive land use policies will probably stimulate smart growth.
Structured parking reduces land requirements and underground parking can be considered to use no additional land. In addition, motor vehicle traffic tends to reduce development density indirectly by increasing the need for sidewalk and building setbacks to avoid traffic noise and dust, so larger boulevards, highways shoulders and front lawns can be considered, in part, a land use cost of motor vehicle transport. It suggests that 5-10% of suburban land, 20-30% of urban land, and 40-60% of commercial center land is devoted to roads and parking.
As previously described, automobile-oriented transport planning tends to cause sprawl by increasing the amount of land required for development, by improving accessibility to urban-fringe locations, and by degrading urban environments.. Another transport engineering text states: It can be argued that sprawl is a land use issue rather than a transport issue, since it can be controlled by land use policies such as development restrictions and zoning codes.
Few governments can establish and enforce effective land use controls where undeveloped land is easily accessible to urban areas. This reduces transportation costs, including internal costs and external costs. Smart growth improves non-drivers overall accessibility and reduces the portion of lower-income household budgets devoted to transportation.
Because transit services and pedestrian facilities experience economies of scale, smart growth tends to increase service quality and reduce unit costs. Sprawl reduces unit land costs and so reduces costs for larger-lot homes, while smart growth reduces land requirements per housing unit, reduces parking requirements, and expands housing types, but may require structured parking and increase other building costs. Sprawl reduces housing costs for households that demand larger-lot single-family homes and generous parking supply, but smart growth reduces housing costs for households with more flexible housing and parking preferences.

Source: Planning Tank

Introspection of an Urban Planner

2014. I wasn’t as open to the idea of the study of building, construction and cities, as I understood it. I definitely had the aptitude. I could draw a straight line on an A4 sheet and had a vague idea of complimentary colours. Straight into School of Planning & Architecture, Vijayawada , a two hour lecture about a dot on a plane didn’t hold any relevance or importance to me mainly because I was ill-read of the subject and unaware about how it was going to affect me. Doing countless number of sheets without any aim, I felt like I was whiling away my time for no reason. I was too lazy to ask questions but in retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t.

Design is like the music on my playlist in so many ways. Fine art yet Subjective.

The beauty lies in the difference of each song, each straight line in this case. Many say there are principles that define the science of Urban Planning and it might take me a while to understand it and philosophies I link them to. That is when it will all start to make sense.

Introspect

It will be very unfortunate if I cannot look back at my four years at design school and not remember the valuable quotes from lectures or workshops that, in the end, will teach me the value of this art. I find myself lucky that I found out about this early enough because now in class, I end up writing the words that have a purpose of more than just exams.

Just like your favourite song playing during that perfect sunset by the sea, it is overwhelming at times. You realise that it is all a part of the oldest story that was ever written; that every human, social and cultural condition continues to influence built form, habitable space and working of cities.

Planning is design. A very cohesive term. Good design to me would mean great aesthetic with quotient that is either well defined or exists without a limit.  I’m not sure I would be a planner in practice for the rest of my life but I’m certain there will always be moments in my life where I look fixedly at a facade of a great building or the interiors of a tiny cafe for a moment or two longer than a normal person only to be interrupted by the smell of well made coffee and cheesecake.

Think and coffee

Author: SaiSiri Nallaparaju, a planning student from SPA Vijayawada

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