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Cross River gives FG three-week ultimatum over highway project


highway project

• Says Chinese bank to finance road

Cross River State has given the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum to sanction the construction of its proposed 260-kilometre superhighway.

In a chat with newsmen yesterday in Calabar, the Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, said: “The Federal Government must grant approval not later than the middle of March. We want to continue with our work. In a short time, the rainy season would set in and the state is a place of torrential downpour and we cannot wait for the rainy season as all the lofty projects of benefit to Cross River and Nigeria would suffer.

“We are appealing that by the middle of March, we would want to see our approvals granted.

But the Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Comrade Nnimmo Bassey retorted: “It is strange that the state government should issue such a threat. It should tell us why it commenced a project without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and concern for the massive deforestation and livelihoods that would ensue. What is the idea behind the threat? At this time, the state government should be laying out plainly how indeed the project would be funded.

“Cross River State government has plenty of work to do and now is the time to critically review its cut-and-paste EIA and secure public buy-in by, for example, fixing the existing highway and then realigning the superhighway totally away from prime forests and areas with threatened biodiversity.”

The commissioner, who was assisted at the briefing by her colleagues in Lands, Dr John Inyang; Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong; Water Resources, Gabe Oji and Climate Change, Alice Ekwu, said the state was determined to go on with the project irrespective of the outcome from the central government.

The state officials decried the antics by suspected detractors within and outside the state to spite the ‘laudable’ projects of the current administration.

“Some of the NGOs have decided to join our opponents to politicise the superhighway project. Of a truth if you listen to some of them talk, they have nothing against the superhighway other than for it not to succeed because it would be a political score for Governor Ayade,” Inyang alleged.

He added that the project was to be financed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

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1 Comment
  • EIS Recyclers

    GREENCODE (an Environmental NGO) in Calabar has call on the FG to ignore the empty threat by group of political sycophants, who are looking for ways to winning Ben Ayade’s heart
    GREENCODE commended the bold steps and the effort of the Federal Government so far in listening to the plights of the citizens, by ordering Stop work on the project.
    GREENCODE recall that the conceptualization of the so called Super Highway was ill conceived as it will render much lost to the state than the much talk about gains.
    At first the propose highway revoked land ownership of over 180 communities, began the indiscriminate destruction of virgin forest areas, houses and farm land.
    Secondly, the going by the national laws and policy, such project should have an acceptable Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) but despite the pressure for the state to commission an all inclusive and participatory EIA process, the state contracted a company that turned in a shameful EIA report full of ‘Cut and Paste’ perhaps from other similar report, which clearly shows that no detail and participatory EIA was conducted in the state, thus pointing to the fact that there is more to hide in the short and long term negative impact of the Super Highway.
    Thirdly, as an NGO concern about prudent management of public finance, we have faulted this project as the initial contract of bulldozing of the highway pathway from Akpabuyo to Bekwara was never made public or either did it comply with the Cross River state Public Procurement Law 2011.
    Fourthly, the state has not public involve the citizens in deciding if the road is needed or not, either has the state government public display analysis of how the road is going to be finance- even if it will be under the Public Private Partnership (PPA), at least the state should be able to share publicly what will be the state contribution and how will the private investor re-cube their investment, thus the leaving the citizens to suspect that the reason behind bull dozing some of the community virgin forest is basically to fall trees and use the proceeds to compensate the private investors, also the revocation of lands within the 10km wide on both side of the so called Super highway from Bakassi to Bekwara will be sold at high price and the proceeds used in paying the part of the investment.
    Similarly, since the state has refused to open up on how the highway construction will be finance, citizens have concluded that perhaps upon completion of the road, several tool gates will be installed on the road with high tool fees, so that the investors can recurbe their investment.
    As development partner in the Cross River project, we are calling on the Ben Ayade’s Government to think in a modern way and adopt modern technology that will save the environment and respect human right.
    In view of the fact that the sole reason for displacing over 180 communities, destroying our natural heritage and placing generational debt burden on CrossRiverians to offer faster link from the south to north and convey goods from the so-called Deep Sea Port in Bakassi to No WAY, GREENCODE as a partner in the Cross River state project is recommending the following
    – Suspend the plan for the construction of superhighway
    – Think of constructing fast rail track beside existing Calabar-Ikom- Ogoja and Bekwara highway which will in transporting goods and services fasted than the ill conceived ‘Super highway, The fast rail will be safer, faster and cheaper and will convey larger number number of goods, service and humans than the super highway. Also, the pathway needed for rail track will be have less impact on the environment.
    – Withdraw the empty and threat on federal government and tender apology to CrossRiverians.

    Comrade Edem