Yesterday’s press statement issued by Christian Ita, Press Secretary to Cross River State governor, Ben Ayade, to the effect that the ground breaking for the 260km dual carriage super highway has been postponed, may not have come as a surprise to many as several representations against the construction of the highway have flooded President Buhari’s office and relevant agencies at national and international level, www.calitown.com can reveal.
The bulk of petitions, local and international, have been against the super highway passing through the Cross River National Park and seem to follow the same pattern as the petitions that surfaced when Ernest Attah, one time military Administrator of Cross River State, first attempted this project, even conducting a survey pursuant to the commencement of work.
One of such petitions, authored by UK-based attorney, Eric Ifere, Snr, and addressed to state governor, Ben Ayade, maintains that, “… the construction of a 260km superhighway scheduled to run through the Cross River National Park will destroy our forest and natural habitat and a threat to the livelihoods of the people and nature. Perhaps it was an error of judgement on your part in failing to address by the book the environmental concerns during the design and planning of this road project. In view of this situation you may think it desirable to jettison your plans as quickly as possible and sway the Federal Government to urgently address the state of the deplorable Calabar –Ikom road to Obudu”.
Sources in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, say agents of the Cross River State Government, led by environmental consultants, PGM (Nig) Ltd, may have been less thorough with the project’s Environmental Impact Assessment. “These people ought to have understood that the project will affect the two separate sections of the National Park, Okwango and Oban. Environmentalists have repeatedly made a case for this 4,000km primary tropical rainforest and I am afraid that whatever these people and your governor had to do was done more in the media than with the agencies saddled with the responsibility of assessing and approving projects of this nature. The people took too many things for granted and I am afraid this project may just be what it is, a dream”, one source told www.calitown.com.
But Ita maintains in his press release that the project has “…since been rerouted with the alignment now several kilometers away from the park”. This appears to be coming too late in the day as even Presidency sources maintained to online platform, crossriverwatch.com that “a new date may not be in sight soonest as the President will have to wait until there is contrary advice from the Federal Ministry of Environment”.
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