Cross River’s N700 billion superhighway ready in three years
Governor Benedict Ayade is to deliver the controversial N700 billion superhighway in three years in Cross River State.
The disclosure came yesterday following the resumption of work on the road and the N200 billion deep seaport project after three years of litigation and brickbats.
His Chief Press Secretary and Senior Special Assistant (Media), Mr. Christian Ita, in a telephone interview in Calabar, stated: “Work has started on the superhighway and we are doing it in phases. We are trying to complete phase one, but we had a lot of challenges.
“We had over 50 petitions on that superhighway and people tended to criticise it and at the end of the day, we were in court and after all the court processes, we now returned back to site and the governor has promised to complete it in the next three years if he gets re-elected, as the investors are there and everything is on ground.”
He, however, declined to name the investors, stating that work had resumed from the Bakassi, Akamkpa and Okuni axes of the state.
The aide continued: “For now there are no encumbrances. We won all the cases in court and necessary conditions have been met. On the issue of compensation, the government has concluded the enumeration.
“The last time we spoke, they (communities) have submitted their memo to the executive and I am sure very soon, they will be compensated, as the amount involved is big.”
Reacting, a community leader in Okuni and spokesman of Okwa Traditional Council, Chief Obaji Nyambi Akpet, noted: “We are aware of the commencement of work because our lawyer took government to court but at the last sitting, government has come to settle out of court. I know that (Governor Benedict) Ayade has started talking with our lawyer. So, we do not want to bother him again.
“They have started the road by bulldozing, and they have about 11 bulldozers on the road right now. We asked for N2 billion, but I think the government has started negotiation for a bulk sum.”
Also speaking, another community leader and Chief Executive Officer of Rain Forest Research and Development Centre (RRDC), Mr. Odey Oyama, confirmed that negotiation was ongoing, adding that since it is government project, the state could order resumption of work.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in 2015 performed the ground-breaking, but civil society organisations (CSOs), affected communities and others immediately petitioned the presidency insisting that issues like compensation and environmental needs must be thrashed out before work could commence.
Consequently, the Federal Government last year gave the state two weeks to meet a 23-point condition for the capital-intensive project to kick-off.