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PIB: A backward-looking law in a rapidly evolving world

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Since the Obasanjo-led era more than two decades ago, there have been attempts to revamp Nigeria’s petroleum sector through the Petroleum Industry Bill (PIB). A 21-year old process, any child who was born at the time the preparatory work for the Bill was being done, would legally be an adult in any country in the world today, yet the Bill has still not seen the light of day.

In the past 21 years, so much has changed – climate change has become a front-burner issue, the Paris Agreement has been signed by nearly every country in the world, various human rights treaties that promote environmental justice have been passed, renewables have taken centre stage and the energy transition has become the slogan of the day. The PIB’s trajectory is akin to being incarcerated for 21 years and re-joining the world after that – nothing is the same.

The society that the PIB – if passed next month as promised by the Federal Government – will meet is one that is worlds apart from what it imagines in its text, and one, for which it is no longer fit. In an age where countries are hot on the heels of the energy transition, the PIB makes no mention of or allusion to the transition in its current text. The most it does is make a passing reference to “development of renewable resources” as part of the objects of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) in Section 64(g) of the draft Bill. Also, in one other place, Section 305, it makes a passing reference to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Save for these peripheral mentions, no real attention is paid to the current reality of the energy sector.

The PIB focuses almost entirely on fossil fuels and provides no insight into Nigeria’s plans, strategies or goals towards energy transition, where those exist. It mentions nothing about research and development for new energy sources and says nothing about carbon capture and storage or decarbonisation of fossil fuel activity. In essence, the PIB is a document for the future that lives in the past.

If the journey to passing the PIB is anything to go by, it is hardly expected that Nigeria will pass another major energy sector law in the next 30 years after the PIB is passed, as such, the wise move would be to ensure the Bill does not just address present-day circumstances, but looks down the road into the future and attempts to set the pace for decades to come. Unfortunately, the PIB in its current state does none of that- it is neither fit for the present nor for the future.

Granted, the Bill attempts some governance restructuring for the country’s oil and gas sector, but ruefully, the restructuring is two decades late, so it is hardly worth cheering. It also attempts some environmental justice fixes, particularly by recognizing the environmental pain points of host communities, but yet again, this should have been done decades ago, the failure of which has led to significant and irreversible environmental harm to these communities.

Another sad thing about this Bill over which there has been much pomp and pageantry and for which Nigerians are waiting with bated breath, is that it does not attempt to address any novel issues. It is a backward-looking law in a quickly evolving world. In a world where remote sensing technologies, artificial intelligence and robotics are ubiquitous, tracking of emissions and their effects with specificity in a particular area is now possible, yet a fossil-fuel rich document like the PIB speaks to nothing about technologies for emissions reduction or tracking.

Worse off, despite the indication in Nigeria’s recently submitted interim Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) that the energy sector is the largest source of greenhouse gases emissions in the country – 60% – with fugitive emissions from oil and gas constituting the largest share of this percentage, the PIB does not for once, mention the Paris Agreement to which Nigeria is a party and has obligations under. The PIB is an intentionally oblivious document – a problem being created for now and the future, and one for which the country may struggle to legislate a solution to again in a few decades.

There is no rational purpose for passing a document that is already outdated. Only a few weeks ago, the Federal Government decided to effect new changes to the PIB. It could easily have effected changes that border on the energy transition and climate change governance, particularly seeing as many large oil sector investors in Nigeria have set out plans to go green, with some already divesting from fossil fuel assets, yet it chose not to. This only makes one wonder whether the PIB, when passed, will be able to thrive in a world it does not recognize.

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months

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KQ resumes Mumbai flights after 4 months


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A Kenya Airways aircraft at JKIA. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Kenya Airways will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.
  • The airline in a notice to its customers yesterday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ will on Thursday resume flights to Mumbai, ending a four-month hiatus that was occasioned by increased cases of Covid-19 in the Asian state.

The airline in a notice to its customers Monday said it will resume its operations on the route on September 16, 2021 with the first flight departing Jomo Kenyatta International Airport at 7am to arrive in Mumbai at 3:45 pm.

The airline will then resume full operations on the route on September 20, flying three times per week on the Indian route, which is one of the most lucrative destinations on its network.

Passengers on the route will part with Sh46,000 ($419) for one-way air ticket on economy class seats from Nairobi to Mumbai- prices that are relatively the same compared to what it was charging before the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Welcome back onboard! Fly from Nairobi to Mumbai starting Thursday 16th September with normal schedules resuming from Monday 20th September 2021,” said the airline in a notice to its customers yesterday.

KQ Suspended passenger flights to and from Mumbai on April 30 until further notice, following a government directive on travel between India and Kenya due to a Covid-19 crisis in that country.

The airline said on Friday that passengers who had booked tickets after May 1, the date of the last flight from Mumbai to Nairobi, will have to change their plans.

Affected passengers, KQ said, could also take vouchers for the value of their fare for future travel within 12 months.

India has seen soaring infection rates in the recent days, since the discovery of a new virus variant. Last month, India put on lockdown one of the states following a spike in cases of Covid-19.

Other countries that have banned flights to India include France, the UK Bangladesh, Oman and Hong Kong that have banned travel to and from India or asked their nationals coming from the Asian country to isolate themselves in government-approved hotels.

India has so far detected 33,264,175 corona virus cases with the number of deaths hitting 442,874 as at September 13.

A large number of patients from Kenya also travel to India every year for specialised medical treatment, especially cancer care, helping to drive medical tourism in the densely populated country that boasts affordable and easily accessible healthcare.

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs

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Lower import volumes push mitumba prices to new highs


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Man pulls a cart loaded with second-hand clothes at Gikomba Market in Nairobi. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.
  • Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.
  • Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

The average price of a tonne of second-hand clothing items imported into the country crossed the Sh100,000 mark for the first time last year on reduced volumes in the wake of safety protocols and guidelines to curb spread of coronavirus.

Traders paid Sh100,527 on average per tonne of the used clothes, popularly called mitumba, compared to Sh96,286 the previous year.

Kenya Bureau of Standards (Kebs) banned importation of the clothes from late March through mid-August in a bid to contain the spread of the life-threatening coronavirus infections.

Findings of the Economic Survey 2021 suggests dealers shipped in 121,778 tonnes of mitumba in 2020, a 34.02 percent fall compared with 2019 and the lowest volumes since 2015.

Last year’s drop was the first dip since 2011 when 76,533 tonnes were shipped in compared with 80,423 tonnes the previous year, the official data collated by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows.

The import bill for the merchandise amounted to Sh12.24 billion, a drop of 31.11 percent, or Sh5.53 billion, year-on-year.

TIn imposing the temporary ban on used clothes, Kebs had applied a standard which prohibits buying second-hand clothes from countries experiencing epidemics to ensure disease-causing microorganisms are not imported into Kenya.

Higher quality and relatively lower prices for mitumba has continued to drive demand for used clothes at expense of locally-made products amid higher margins enjoyed by traders largely operating in informal markets.

The lucrative second-hand clothing market has seen traders from China —a key source market for the merchandise —open shops in Gikomba, Kenya’s largest informal market for mitumba, in recent years to cash in rising demand.

Earnings from exports of articles of apparel and clothing accessories fell 5.32 percent to Sh32.92 billion last year compared with 2019, data indicates.

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud

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Court backs Atwoli union in horticulture membership feud


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Cotu boss Francis Atwoli. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Summary

  • A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.
  • Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

A trade union that is led by the long-serving Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) boss Francis Atwoli has survived an attempt to stop it from representing over 60,000 workers in the horticulture industry.

Newly registered Kenya Export, Floriculture, Horticulture, and Allied Workers Union (Kefhau) had filed as a case in the Employment and Labour seeking to bar the Atwoli-led Kenya Plantation and Agricultural Workers Union (KPAWU) from representing workers in the industry.

Mr Atwoli is the secretary-general of KPAWU. The rival union claimed KPAWU had encroached on its area of workers’ representation.

Justice James Rika, however, dismissed the claim and ruled that the dispute should have been taken through conciliation, and was therefore presented in court prematurely.

He also stated that Kefhau must go beyond its registration and recruit sufficient members from the employers, to be granted recognition and organisational rights.

“Registration on its own, does not afford the claimant (Kefhau) recognition. Until there is proof that Kefhau has satisfied Section 54 of the Labour Relations Act, the status quo must be maintained,” said the judge.

“Kefhau must recruit at least 50 percent plus one, of the unionisable employees in the floriculture and horticulture industry, members of the Agricultural Employers Association to be considered for recognition,” he stated.

He noted that there is a Recognition Agreement and CBA, binding Mr Atwoli’s union and Agricultural Employers Association, affecting 73 Flower Growers Group of employers, and over 60,000 employees.

“It is objectionable for Kefhau to be allowed organisational rights, and the legitimacy to receive trade union dues and agency fees, from over 60,000 employees, just on the strength of registration as a trade union,” said the judge.

Kefhau wanted the court to declare that it is the sole trade union, which is allowed by its constitution to carry out activities in the export floriculture and vegetable industry, and an order restraining Mr Atwoli’s from representing workers in that area.

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