Bassey Inyang in Calabar
The Cross River State Governor, Professor Ben Ayade, has disclosed that the federal government has temporarily stopped the construction of the proposed 260 kilometres super highway pending the conclusion of an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) on the project.
The proposed 260 kilometres road, on completion, would serve as evacuation route for cargo from the proposed Bakassi Deep Sea Port in the southern part of the state to the northern part of the country through Gakim in the northern part of the state.
A statement from the office of the Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Mr. Christian Ita, which was made available to THISDAY last Monday quoted Ayade as making the disclosure when he played host to the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, when the latter paid him a courtesy visit in his office.
“President Muhammadu Buhari deserves the commendation of every Cross Riverian as one of the simplest and truest Nigerian president who loves this country and committed to the wellbeing and oneness of Nigeria.
“This is a president who appointed three prominent Cross Riverians, including the Chief of Naval Staff, Minister of Niger Delta and the Head of Service of the Federation to serve the government. He is one of the finest leaders of the world who means well for his people. Again, the state was also the very first to be visited by President Buhari and made a firm commitment to return to inaugurate the superhighway and the deep seaport.
“For us to honour the words of the president that he will come back to inaugurate the projects, all the bottlenecks militating against the project must be removed.
“Today, as we speak, there is no work going on, all the equipment mobilised have been down-sized. The EIA has been issued but because of the petty concerns that have been raised, the Minister of Environment decided to come to see things for herself and she left very satisfied,” the governor stated.
On the alarm raised in some quarters that the project would degrade the environment, Ayade said the multi-billion naira project would not degrade the environment, rather, it would add value to it.
The governor said: “I want to put it on record that I have the signature that is characteristic of me to protect the environment. There is no person outside our state that is better positioned to protect the environment than me.
“For the superhighway, I have no intention to degrade the environment but to add value. As I speak, we have been asked to stop work for a project that the president wants to inaugurate during my tenure.”
According to the statement, the governor lamented that it was regrettable that some persons have chosen to play politics by ignoring the technical aspect of the project which he noted was important to the socio-economic development of the state.
It stated further that Ayade appealed to Oyo-Ita to help the state, so the work can go on smoothly and be completed on schedule.
“Let me use this opportunity to call on the Head of Service of the Federation to kindly put in words on our behalf to the Minister of the Environment and Minister of Transport to expedite action on the EIA document before the Federal Ministry of Environment. The Minister of Environment has come to see things for herself that the issues of the superhighway and the deep seaport were politically exaggerated by some persons,” Ayade said.
On her appeal for a parcel of land for the construction of a training institution, the statement quoted Ayade thus: “As for your appeal for a piece of land for the building of the Federal Civil Service Training Centre, it is granted.”
Oyo-Ita, according to the statement, was in the state to seek collaborations in areas of waste to wealth programme and technical training for the state’s civil service.