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Halt smart motorways projects until safety upgrades are made, say MPs

smart motorways

Halt smart motorways projects until safety upgrades are made, say MPs

The construction of smart motorways should be paused until promised safety improvements have been delivered and there is more evidence to assess the risks, MPs have urged.

The cross-party transport select committee criticised as premature the decision by Grant Shapps in March 2020 to press ahead with the use of the controversial motorways in the face of mounting concern about their safety.

While the government has maintained that smart motorways are as safe as conventional ones, MPs said that at least five years of trial data covering all variants of smart motorway, which manage road speeds through electronic signs and do not have a hard shoulder, were needed.

The report said that the available evidence was “limited and volatile”, and urged greater powers for the Office of Rail and Road to block new road schemes until it was satisfied of their safety.

The scale of measures needed to effectively mitigate the risks from removing the hard shoulder on motorways had been underestimated, MPs said, and Highways England (the old name for National Highways) and the Department for Transport had failed to deliver promised safety upgrades.

More emergency refuge areas should be retrofitted to existing all-lane running smart motorways to be never more than one mile apart, and every 0.75 miles where possible. The highway code should also be updated with instructions to drivers to create corridors to allow emergency services to reach the scene of incidents, according to the MPs.

The report did not go as far some campaigners in calling for smart motorways to be scrapped, after a number of motorists who had broken down in a live lane and been hit by other vehicles were killed. However, it said that Shapps’ so-called “stock take” and 18-point plan last year would not go far enough in addressing the risks.

MPs also questioned Shapps’ decision to end by 2025 the use of “dynamic” all-lane running, where the hard shoulder is sometimes used as a live traffic lane. They suggested that with clear, consistent use such motorways would be preferable, as they could retain the hard shoulder in quieter times.

Committee chair Huw Merriman said as only 29 miles of all-lane running smart motorways had operated for over five years, it “feels too soon, and uncertain, to use this as an evidence base to remove the hard shoulder from swathes of our motorway network”.

He said the focus on upgrading safety by ministers was welcome, “but we’ve been here before. We’re not convinced that reinstating the hard shoulder on existing schemes is the answer, but the DfT must pause the rollout and take stock.”

The select committee in June 2016 called on the government to drop or pause the rollout of smart motorways, which have been seen as a comparatively cheap and easy way to increase capacity on the UK’s major road networks. A report then concluded that the trade-off in safety was an “unacceptable price to pay” for all-lane running.

Motoring organisations welcomed the latest report, which they said was pragmatic and endorsed their calls for measures to improve safety.

Labour said it confirmed that ministers had wrongly pressed ahead in the face of overwhelming warning evidence. Jim McMahon, shadow transport secretary, said: “We know smart motorways in their current form, coupled with inadequate safety systems, are not fit for purpose and are putting lives at risk. Reinstating the hard shoulder while full investigations are carried out need not be costly … the government must finally listen.”

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Chief Of Defence Staff Says Military Under Pressure To Compromise 2023 Polls

The Nigerian military on Thursday revealed that despite the fact that it is facing constant pressure to compromise the 2023 elections, it will continue to be neutral.

General Lucky Irabor,  Chief of Defence Staff disclosed this to journalists at the 61st session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Aso Rock Villa, Abuja.

According the him, military personnel face pressure through inducements, but the armed forces would remain apolitical as it is taking the necessary measures to ensure compliance with the directive of the President Muhammadu Buhari  to maintain neutrality.

Irabor added that personnel are being trained to be more professional even as the rules of engagement have been codified for distribution before, during and after the elections.

The CDS also revealed that several military rescue operations and negotiations have led to the freeing of at least 300,000 people from the hands of their abductors since 2014 while refugees who fled the North-East due to insurgency, have started to return.

He said that former insurgents, now being trained, would graduate in February next year before their reintegration into the society. He added that the military is recruiting more personnel into all branches of the security services.

The goal, Irabor said, is to increase the number of on-the-ground personnel to combat insurgency and banditry and curtail oil theft which will eventually lead to increased crude oil production.

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ICPC Arraigns NSCDC Official Over N12m job Scam

The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) has arraigned a Superintendent of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), Solomon Ogodo, over allegations bordering on forgery, employment racketeering, and fraud.

ICPC, in charge no: CR/503/2022 brought before Justice M.S. Idris of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, sitting in Jabi, Abuja, accused the defendant of defrauding unsuspecting job seekers the N12.2 million.

In the five-count charge, the commission told the court that the accused person on different occasions hoodwinked members of the public into parting with different sums of money in the guise of securing employment for their relatives in the Nigeria Correctional Services (NCoS).

The court was further informed of how Mr. Ogodo, with the intent to commit fraud, forged offers of provisional appointments for some applicants into the Nigeria Correctional Services.

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Okonjo Iweala Makes Forbes List Of World’s Most Powerful Women

A former Nigerian minister of finance and current Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO), Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has been named one of Forbes’s World’s 100 Most Powerful Women in 2022.

Forbes, an American business magazine owned by Integrated Whale Media Investments and the Forbes family, has a particular focus on business, technology, communications, science, politics, and law.

The African leadership person of the year awards are vote-based and reserved yearly for leading Africans who are making positive impacts and promoting a favourable image of the continent.

Okonjo-Iweala polled over 60 percent of the 15,000 votes in the category at the close of the poll on 2nd of December 2022.

Forbes said, “The World Trade Organization head Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (No. 91 of 100) continue to play a crucial role in providing financial assistance and promoting global trade as the threat of a global recession rises.”

Recall that Okonjo-Iweala was recognized by another media platform, Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people in 2021.

This would be Okonjo-Iweala’s 6th recognition in her career.

Okonjo-iweala reacted on Twitter, saying that she was excited by the awards she had received in her career.

“An honour and a privilege to be part of this list of a very distinguished group of women for the 6th time in my career, Congratulations to my other sisters. Let’s continue to show that good governance, good public policy and a people-centered approach to work matters,” he said.

Winners for the 11th edition of the award shall be presented with the honour on 16th of February 2023, at a ceremony scheduled to be held in Port Louis, Mauritius.

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