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

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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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BREAKING: Justice Tanko Muhammad Resigns As CJN

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BREAKING: Justice Tanko Muhammad Resigns As CJN

The Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Tanko Muhammad, has resigned, Channels Television learned on Monday.

Sources told Channels Television that Justice Muhammad resigned on Sunday night, citing ill-health as the reason for his decision.

Information also has it that arrangements are ongoing to swear in the next most senior justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Olukayode Ariwoola, as the acting Chief Justice of Nigeria.

According to reports, a formal announcement will be made shortly.

Until his resignation, reports had it that Justice Muhammad was seriously ill.

Last week, 14 justices of the Supreme Court had written him a letter to lament the decrepit state of affairs in the apex court.

In the leaked letter, the Justices accused the CJN of refusing to address the issues despite drawing his attention to them.

They complained of a lack of residential accommodation and vehicles at the court.

The justices further accused the CJN of gallivanting with his “spouse, children and personal staff,” while not allowing them to travel with an assistant on foreign trips.

The justices decried the lack of legal research assistants, despite the magnitude of cases being adjudicated.

On erratic electricity supply, the justices said they have been confined to work between the “hours of 8 a.m and 4 p.m daily, for lack of diesel,” after they were notified of the development by the Supreme Court’s Chief Registrar, Hajo Bello.

Meanwhile, Justice Tanko Muhammed did not attend the opening of the training for Judges on Alternative Dispute Resolution organized by the National Judicial Institute, amidst reports of resignation.

Although no Supreme Court Justice is present at the event.

Training of Judges by the Institute is usually declared open by the CJN or any of his representatives. however, the Administrator of the Institute, Justice Garba has opened the session.

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2023: I’m Still Searching For My Running Mate – Tinubu

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2023: I’m Still Searching For My Running Mate – Tinubu

Ahead of the 2023 general election, the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Bola Tinubu, on Sunday said he is still searching for his running mate.

He stated this in Abuja while delivering his keynote address at the 60th birthday celebration of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Femi Gbajabiamila. The ex-Lagos Governor also heaped praises on the Speaker for his contributions to his political ambition of becoming Nigeria’s President and democracy, while extolling the virtues of his Deputy, Hon Idris Wase, for being a dependable ally.

“I could see a Deputy (Wase) sitting down there too, you are very good symbols of unity, dependability, and honesty, thank you. Thank you for both of you, you’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you, how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate,” Tinubu said.

“What you did during my primary (APC presidential election) is a story for another day. I’ve spent more time, too many times and people might be bored, they might be envious too, they might be jealous. I won a landslide, I thank you.

“Femi, with your determination, and reach, you are a contributor to our democratic growth, thank you. It is about charting a path to success, you’ve done a good job and I say thank you, thank you.”

Also speaking, President Muhammadu Buhari described Gbajabiamila as a team player and a skillful parliamentarian.

A file photo of APC preisdential candidate, Bola Tinubu.

Buhari, who was represented by his Chief of Staff, Prof Ibrahim Gambari, said the Speaker is one who looks beyond differences for the benefit of all.

“For him what matters is not so much the party differences but what unites Nigerians and that is why he is a passionate advocate for a peaceful democracy and unity of Nigeria. And no amount of parliamentary maneuvers or differences between parties would deviate him from this,” he said.

“He introduced the term legislative diplomacy. When there were issues between Nigerian and Ghanaian traders, he went to Accra and met with his colleagues and tried to resolve the issue.

“Mr President is very proud of the fact that he did not need to interfere in how the National Assembly runs because he had trust in the capacity in the leadership of the Senate and House of Representatives and therefore he feels that with capable hands in both chambers of the NASS there is no need to interfere.

“It is also a fact that under the Speaker and leader of the Senate, there is no automatic opposition and antagonism to the executive. The role of the legislature is not to be antagonistic as a matter of routine, but to be partners for good governance for the people of Nigeria. They are working together to make Nigeria better.”

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Those Doubting Tinubu’s Credentials Should Go To Court – Farouk Aliyu

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Those Doubting Tinubu’s Credentials Should Go To Court – Farouk Aliyu

Farouk Aliyu has told those doubting the credentials of the All Progressives Congress (APC) presidential candidate, Bola Tinubu, to seek redress in court

The former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives made the comment on Sunday amid claims that Tinubu falsified his academic qualifications.

“We have gone through this a very long time ago. Asiwaju Tinubu was governor in Lagos, a two-time governor. These issues have come up. What haven’t they said about Tinubu? What hasn’t he proved to the people? And look, that is the beauty of democracy,” he said during an interview on Channels Television Sunday Politics. 

“If anybody feels strongly that our candidate has no qualification to be president, he is entitled to go to court and challenge that.”

Search For Running Mate

In this file photo, a chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC) and a former Minority Leader of the House of Representatives, Honourable Farouk Adamu Aliyu, speaks during an interview on Channels Television’s Newsnight on May 10, 2021.

Aliyu, who also spoke about the search for a running mate to the former Lagos State governor, said the decision lies with Tinubu. He stated that the APC is still consulting and reiterated that competence, not religion, will be the major determinant.

“So, if our party comes out with a Muslim candidate, so be it. We are going to make sure we win the election,” he maintained.

“And if in the wisdom of our candidate, he brings a Christian candidate, we are also going to make sure we win the election because, as I said before, it is not about the religion or where you come from. It is about competence.”

His remarks came hours after Tinubu said he is still in search of a running mate ahead of the general elections.

He spoke on Sunday during his keynote address at a book launch to mark the 60th birthday of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila.

“I could see a Deputy (Wase) sitting down there too, you are very good symbols of unity, dependability, and honesty, thank you. Thank you for both of you, you’ve not rocked the boat. I will need to learn from both of you, how you made the pair work because I’m still searching for my running mate,” Tinubu said at the event held in Abuja.

“What you did during my primary (APC presidential election) is a story for another day. I’ve spent more time, too many times and people might be bored, they might be envious too, they might be jealous. I won a landslide, I thank you.

“Femi, with your determination, and reach, you are a contributor to our democratic growth, thank you. It is about charting a path to success, you’ve done a good job and I say thank you, thank you.”

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