BudgIT Nigeria, a website that provides facts and figures has warned the Cross River State Government against its proposed Superhighway project, noting that it will increase the debt burden already overwhelming the state.
In a statement thursday signed by its Lead Partner, Oluseun Onigbinde, the agency urged the state government to consider investing on other viable projects which will add values to the state.
Cross River Government had initiated plans to build a 275km superhighway, initially put at N800billion but has been revised to N200 billion.
It rationalised that the superhighway would evacuate cargos from the proposed Calabar deep seaport to the central and northern parts of Nigeria as well as Chad and Niger.
The statement read in parts: “Considering Cross River serial attempts for bogus projects which have made it the state with the fourth largest external debt, there is a need to advise caution. We see this as an ambitious and expensive project.
“As an organisation interested in public accountability, there has been too little explanation on the human and environmental cost of the superhighway as well as the viability for investors.
“Even though the state government claimed that its superhighway investors will make returns on investment through collected toll fees from vehicles and trucks that ply the highway, evacuating the proposed Bakassi deep sea port.
“However, our analysis shows that at a considerable high volume, it will take 100 years for funds to be recouped, coupled with the fact that the Bakassi deep sea port is yet to exist, and up until now, no organisation has signed up to the funding of the deep-sea port project.
The explanation by the State government that the super highway project will be funded by a Public-Private Agreement (PPA), did little or nothing to change the impression of the agency.
It added: “Our research has also shown that considering the low topography of defined area, building a deep sea port at the proposed site will not only be technologically challenging but unreasonably expensive to maintain, due to constant dredging to maintain the depth required for large vessels.
“There are already two roads that link Calabar to Benue and NDDC as well as the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing have committed to fixing these roads. Why not support the federal government rather than build an expensive superhighway that terminates at Benue?”
“The State Government will tamper with a large trove of biodiversity, and conservative estimates and N700m proposal as compensation is grossly absurd” he continued.
It concluded by advising the Cross River State Government to focus the N200bn fund on other viable approaches such as building an information technology hub, renewable energy for Agric processing, empowering SMEs and also creating a stronger eco-tourism profile for the state.