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‘Superhighway, others lack participatory governance’

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Ongoing clearing of the project site for the super highway. PHOTO: Heinrich Böll Stiftung Nigeria

Environmentalists have described the proposed 275km super highway project and the Bakassi deep-sea port as monumental failure.

The experts, who spoke at a media sensitisation workshop organised by Peace Point Action (PPA) in Calabar, said the super highway “is a failure in participatory governance and it weakens rather than strengthens the supply of governance”.

Presenting a paper at the event theme, “Forest, Community Concerns and Superhighway”, an environmental consultant, Mr. Tony Atah said the entire project was planned to fail as the people were not taken along and issue of consultation and compensation was part of the 23 conditions given the state to comply.

Another environmentalist, Pamela Braide said the cost implication of the projects on the people now and in future would be damaging if the government gets on with the project.

For the Executive Director Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC), Odey Oyama, “what is in dispute in the ongoing superhighway campaign is not the power of the Governor to acquire lands for the superhighway, rather, whether or not he exercised that power and authority in the manner expected of him as a trustee of the state in Land Management in the public interest and in compliance with the intent and provisions of the Land Use Act itself”.

According to him, none payment of compensations by the Cross River State government to communities and persons whose property have been destroyed and/or about to be destroyed for the superhighway project is a violation of the law”.

Also the Director, PPA, Mr. Umoh Johnson in a Communique charged the Cross River State government to comply with the 23 conditions given to it before the commencement of work on the 275 super highway and deep sea port.

The forum also urged the Cross River State Government, “to pay compensation to communities and individuals whose means of livelihood have been destroyed by the commencement of the super highway project.

“For the purposed Super highway and deep seaports projects to adopt international best practices to guarantee protection of the environment, the Cross River Government must enter into further dialogue with the affected communities and stakeholders”.

The federal government had early this year given the state a temporary approval and 23 conditions to meet within two weeks before start of work.

On land issues, the workshop agreed to do follow up on moratorium and revenue loss arising from the degradation of the forest for the super highway project. It stated that the realignment of the Cross River National Park is illegal and should be stopped.


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