Cross River gives FG three-week ultimatum over highway project
• Says Chinese bank to finance road
Cross River State has given the Federal Government a three-week ultimatum to sanction the construction of its proposed 260-kilometre superhighway.
In a chat with newsmen yesterday in Calabar, the Commissioner for Information, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, said: “The Federal Government must grant approval not later than the middle of March. We want to continue with our work. In a short time, the rainy season would set in and the state is a place of torrential downpour and we cannot wait for the rainy season as all the lofty projects of benefit to Cross River and Nigeria would suffer.
“We are appealing that by the middle of March, we would want to see our approvals granted.
But the Director of Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), Comrade Nnimmo Bassey retorted: “It is strange that the state government should issue such a threat. It should tell us why it commenced a project without an approved Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and concern for the massive deforestation and livelihoods that would ensue. What is the idea behind the threat? At this time, the state government should be laying out plainly how indeed the project would be funded.
“Cross River State government has plenty of work to do and now is the time to critically review its cut-and-paste EIA and secure public buy-in by, for example, fixing the existing highway and then realigning the superhighway totally away from prime forests and areas with threatened biodiversity.”
The commissioner, who was assisted at the briefing by her colleagues in Lands, Dr John Inyang; Finance, Mr. Asuquo Ekpenyong; Water Resources, Gabe Oji and Climate Change, Alice Ekwu, said the state was determined to go on with the project irrespective of the outcome from the central government.
The state officials decried the antics by suspected detractors within and outside the state to spite the ‘laudable’ projects of the current administration.
“Some of the NGOs have decided to join our opponents to politicise the superhighway project. Of a truth if you listen to some of them talk, they have nothing against the superhighway other than for it not to succeed because it would be a political score for Governor Ayade,” Inyang alleged.
He added that the project was to be financed by the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.