…As EU declares war on plastic waste***
The management of Alheri Engineering Company Limited has denied owing the Federal Government $75,500,000 (about N27.18 billion).
The Federal Government had disclosed, yesterday, the termination of the concession contracts for management of Fibre Optic Network of the Transmission Company of Nigeria, TCN, which involved the company, owned by Aliko Dangote and Phase3 Telecom Limited, based on alleged debt of N27.18 billion. But the company, in a statement, described the accusation as wrong and fallacious and assured its customers that the story was not only untrue but also a distortion of facts and events twisted to achieve a predetermined goal.
The story is as bizarre as it is deceptive, calculated only to sensationalize and to smear the good corporate reputation and image of Alheri,” the company said. It stated further that after a very extensive and competitive bid selection process, it was shortlisted with Phase3 as preferred bidders for the award of the concession for the fibre optic deployment project under a Public Private Partnership, PPP, arrangement.
The statement read: “The Concession Agreement required the concessionaires to take over the operations of TCN’s fibre optic network, Design, Build, Finance and Operate, DBFO, the infrastructure with unhindered access to existing and future fibre optic infrastructure on the network. “For the purpose of execution of the project, the entire country was divided into two. The Eastern half of the country awarded to Alheri and the Western half to Phase3.
It is worthy to note that the concession area granted to Alheri covers less economically viable cities.” It noted that the company had always honoured the terms of the concession agreement with TCN in line with the kilometre of fibre available as well as market realities, adding that it had never been and would never be part of any diversion or misappropriation of funds accruable to TCN as wrongly claimed by the media.
In the meantime, the EU is waging war against plastic waste as part of an urgent plan to clean up Europe’s act and ensure that every piece of packaging on the continent is reusable or recyclable by 2030.
Following China’s decision to ban imports of foreign recyclable material, Brussels on Tuesday launched a plastics strategy designed to change minds in Europe, potentially tax damaging behaviour, and modernise plastics production and collection by investing €350m (£310m) in research.
Speaking to the Guardian and four other European newspapers, the vice-president of the commission, Frans Timmermans, said Brussels’ priority was to clamp down on “single-use plastics that take five seconds to produce, you use it for five minutes and it takes 500 years to break down again”.
In the EU’s sights, Timmermans said, were throw-away items such as drinking straws, “lively coloured” bottles that do not degrade, coffee cups, lids and stirrers, cutlery and takeaway packaging.
The former Dutch diplomat told the Guardian: “If we don’t do anything about this, 50 years down the road we will have more plastic than fish in the oceans … we have all the seen the images, whether you watch [the BBC’s] Blue Planet, whether you watch the beaches in Asian countries after storms.
“If children knew what the effects are of using single-use plastic straws for drinking sodas, or whatever, they might reconsider and use paper straws or no straws at all.
“We are going to choke on plastic if we don’t do anything about this. How many millions of straws do we use every day across Europe? I would have people not use plastic straws any more. It only took me once to explain to my children. And now … they go looking for paper straws, or don’t use straws at all. It is an issue of mentality.”
He added: “[One] of the challenges we face is to explain to consumers that arguably some of the options in terms of the colour of bottles you can buy will be more limited than before. But I am sure that if people understand that you can’t buy that lively green bottle, it will have a different colour, but it can be recycled, people will buy into this.”
As part of its strategy, the EU will carry out an impact assessment on a variety of ways to tax the use of single use plastics, although details on potential models were notably lacking from the published strategy documents.
Last week, the budget commissioner, Günther Oettinger, claimed that a levy on plastics could be one way in which Brussels could fill the €13bn hole in its budget left by the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
“Let’s study this,” Timmermans said. “In a perfect world the revenues of this tax will decrease very rapidly, we have to check in an impact assessment whether this is a sustainable form of income also for the EU’s finances. I think there is a lot of support out there.”
Vanguard with additional report from Guardian UK