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Government To Take Over Southeastern After ‘Serious’ Breach Of Franchise

Government to take over Southeastern after ‘serious’ breach of franchise

Department for Transport finds rail operator did not declare more than £25m of historical taxpayer funding

The government is taking over the running of Southeastern railway services from Go-Ahead after discovering a “serious” breach of the franchise agreement.

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said an investigation by the Department for Transport found that since October 2014 Southeastern had not declared more than £25m of historical taxpayer funding that should have been returned, and described this as a serious breach of the franchise agreement’s “good faith” obligation.

He said the money had been recovered and further investigations were being conducted into all historical contract issues related to the franchise. After these investigations, the government will consider further options for enforcement action. It is understood the matter could be looked at by the Serious Fraud Office.

Southeastern’s owner, Go-Ahead, said “while the contracts concerned are highly complex”, it “acknowledges that errors have been made in relation to the franchise” and that the £25m had been repaid.

Shapps said: “There is clear, compelling and serious evidence that for years, London and South Eastern Railway Services have breached the trust that is absolutely fundamental to the success of our railways. When trust is broken, we will act decisively.”

The franchise will be run by the government’s in-house operator of last resort – railway managers who already oversee London North Eastern Railway and Northern- from 17 October.

Shapps said the decision would not affect jobs and that fares, tickets and services will remain unchanged for passengers.

Southeastern is run by Govia and operates services across south-east England, covering London, Kent, East Sussex and the High Speed 1 lines. It employs 4,000 people.

The Go-Ahead Group chairman, Clare Hollingsworth, said: “It has always been this group’s intention to provide the best possible public transport, and to work in partnership with the government and related agencies. We recognise that mistakes have been made and we sincerely apologise to the DfT. We are working constructively with the DfT towards a settlement of this matter.”

Go-Ahead said it was postponing its results for the year to 3 July, which had been scheduled for Thursday. Its chief financial officer, Elodie Brian, is to stand down with immediate effect after two years in the job and 13 years with the company.

The government’s decision leaves the group with GTR (Govia Thameslink Railway), which runs the Thameslink, Southern, Great Northern and Gatwick Express services. Both GTR and Southeastern are run by Govia, a joint venture with France’s Keolis, dominated by Go-Ahead with a 65% share.

Go-Ahead also runs trains in Germany and Norway and is the biggest operator of buses in London.

Business

Nigeria oil production drops to 1.231m barrels per day- OPEC

OPEC: Russia-Ukraine war causing volatility in global energy market

Nigeria’s crude oil production suffered its second consecutive monthly decline since the beginning of this year, as it dropped to 1.231 million barrels per day in March, the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries has revealed.

OPEC disclosed this in its latest Monthly Oil Market Report for April 2024, stating that crude oil production details which it got through direct communication from Nigeria showed that the country pumped less oil in March compared to February.

Data from the report indicated that Nigeria produced 1.322 million barrels per day of crude in February this year, but this dropped to 1.231mbpd in March, representing a plunge of 91mbpd.

The report further added that the country had produced 1.427mbpd of crude in January, but this was not sustained in February as it dropped in that month, while the southward oil production continued in March.

However, OPEC data showed that Nigeria’s average crude oil production in the first quarter of 2024 was 1.327mbpd, higher than the 1.313mbpd average oil production in the fourth quarter of 2023.

Nigeria’s first quarter oil output in 2024 was also higher than the 1.201mbpd average production in the third quarter of 2023.

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Emirates Airlines to resume Nigeria flights soon – Keyamo

Emirates, UAE, has concluded plans to resume flights with Nigeria.

This followed numerous visits from President Bola Tinubu to UAE over the communication breakdown between both countries.

Featuring on Arise Television on Monday, the Minister of Aviation and Aerospace Development, Festus Keyamo, said the Emirates Airline had already indicated its readiness in a letter sent to the Nigerian Government.

Keyamo explained that what transpired during the earlier visit and resolution was not fake but was presented in a ‘hasty’ manner.

He said: “Emirates flight resumption is almost happening. I just received a letter from Emirates. The letter is on my phone now. They have gone through all the gamut and they are ready to come back. They will announce the date because to restart a route, they must get an aircraft for that route.

“I am announcing to Nigerians for the first time; that I just received a letter from Emirates now. The letter is with me. I have a hard copy thanking you for all the efforts we made. Mr President was the showman here. He was the one who pushed for it. He made my job easy because he went there, and had a diplomatic shuttle to resolve all the issues.

“That was why I said the last announcement was hasty and not fake news.

“They will announce the date for their next flight. We have received a letter confirming that all the issues have been resolved and prepared to start coming back. It may be before June.”

Apart from Emirates suspending flights to Nigeria, in 2022, the UAE Immigration Department notified its trade partners and travel agencies that it was stopping visa applications from 22 countries, 20 of which are African nations.

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CICB records 63% revenue growth in 2023

The Chartered Institute of Bankers of Nigeria, CIBN, says it recorded a 63.60 per cent growth of operating revenue, which stood at N1.37 billion in 2023, marking a significant increase from the N837.94 million recorded in 2022.

CIBN’s president, Ken Opara, disclosed this on Saturday in Lagos.

Opara added that the cost-to-income ratio for the year ended December 31, 2023, stood at 50.72 per cent, down from 59.41 per cent in the corresponding period in 2022.

“I am particularly delighted that our institute continued to wax stronger financially, notwithstanding the economic downturns and headwinds in 2023.

“It is on record that our institute, for the first time, crossed the one billion Naira mark by achieving a Net Operating Surplus of N1.371 billion in 2023 when compared with N837.943 million achieved in 2022, representing a growth of 63.60 per cent.

“Similarly, total revenue grew from N2.065 billion recorded in 2022 to N2.782 billion in 2023, representing 34.72 per cent growth, while total assets grew from N7.821 billion in 2022 to N9.119 billion in 2023.

“The cost-to-income ratio for the year ended December 31, 2023, stood at 50.72 per cent, down from 59.41 per cent in the corresponding period in 2022. This ratio is way below the approved Governing Council threshold of 61 per cent for the 2023 financial year.

“I am persuaded that with prudent and efficient management of resources, as well as diligent execution of our strategic plan, our institute will sustain this northward trajectory,” he said.

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