Britain, groups oppose Cross River highway project

Cross River Governor, Ayade

Cross River Governor, Ayade

The Nigerian government has been inundated with complaints from relevant stakeholders and some international organisations including the British Government through their High Commission in Nigeria over the proposed super highway connecting Calabar and Obudu traversing the Cross River National Park .

UNCOMFORTABLE with the proposed Super Highway project being undertaken by the Cross River State Government, a number of international bodies including the Britain have raised the alarm over the project, saying it constitutes threat to livelihood.

As at the weekend, The Guardian learnt that, a German firm, which plans to invest over 500m Euro on the project many have suspended work.

It was also learnt that a Germany firm, Broad Spectrum Industrial Services and the China Harbour Engineering Company firms may have put on hold all plans for the proposed 260 km super highway and the deep sea port in the state.

This is coming to fore just as unconfirmed sources says President Mohammadu Buhari, who was billed for the ground breaking of the project today has suspended the occasion based on environmental issues raised by international organisations and the Federal Ministry of Environment.

Both the German and Chinese firms, and others involved in the project and seaport may have stopped work pending the resolution of all issues raised by the international organisations.

The Federal Ministry of Environment in a letter dated September 11, 2015 and signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mrs. Nana Fatima Mede to the Cross River State Governor Senator, Ben Ayade said “the ministry has received complaints from relevant stakeholders and some international organisations including the British Government through their High Commission in Nigeria on the proposed Super Highway connecting Calabar and Obudu traversing the Cross River National Park (CRNP)”.

The ministry said the “CRNP is one of the most Key Biodiversity Area (KBA) in the whole of Africa and had been proposed for UNESCO World Heritage Status. Equally, the park is amongst the last vestiges of Nigeria’s rainforest, a vital part of our country’s national heritage, plays a key role in delivering a carbon sequestration and climate change mitigation”.

The ministry further drew the attention of the state government to the fact that “Nigeria is a party to some international convention’s agreement such as Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) whose values and principles support protection of wildlife, mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

“CRNP having been designated as KBAs has 18 species of primates, the highest diversity recorded at a single site in Africa; two species of butterflies new to science have been described from the area and plant diversity is high.

In view of this, fears are rife that the internal bodies like the UNESCO, UNFCCC, CBD, CMS which Nigeria is a signatory to may sanction Nigeria if the state goes ahead with the project without satisfying all issues covered by the convention as according to the ministry, “the proposed highway would open up the park to poachers and jeopardize globally threatened species”.

While acknowledging the fact that the state government has agreed to re-route the road outside CRNP, Mede said, “you will need to subject the road project to Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study in line with the EIA Act. This is the normal requirement where inputs and comments of all stakeholders are taken into consideration before certification”.

But, reacting to the letter from the Federal Ministry of Environment, the Chief Press Secretary to the State Governor, Mr. Christian Ita, in a press statement said that “the proposed road would not traverse the Cross River National Park, as the superhighway is several kilometres far removed from the National Park. Based on the input of the Cross River National Park, the road has since been rerouted with the alignment now several kilometers away from the Park,”

He said the governor who is passionate about the preservation of the state’s biodiversity with his establishment of the Green Police, would not embark on a project that would undermine the environment as “the EIA report on the road is being handled by PGM (Nig) Ltd, environmental consultants recommended to the state by the Federal Ministry of Environment”.

While thanking the people of the state for keeping faith with Governor Ayade for his vision for the state, Ita affirmed the Governor’s unwavering determination to see through the project and his reassurance “to work closely with the Presidency to clear areas of doubt, promising to convey to Cross Riverians a new date for the ceremony”.

While marking his 100 days in office, Ayade said “on issue of the sea port, as I speak to you, the biggest and number one company in harbour design and construction in the world, which is the China Harbour Engineering Company is right there at the seaport in Calabar. Design work has been completed, construction work is ongoing, geophysical studies, foundation studies, and sea-pilling work is ongoing at the site. The 260km super highway, which is supposed to take off from the Seaport and terminates at Gakem in Bekwara the boundary with Vandykkia is also on going.

“Survey work is going on, the road has been plotted, excavation has started from the sea port at point zero and we have made a progress of about 1.8km and we hope that we are going to hit the president by-pass. We are going to terminate at that point and then face the northern hemisphere of the state which we will start tearing and gain a reasonable distance”.

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  • Patrick Amajama

    Who’s in love with Permanent-Secretary-Technocrats? Not I Sir!


    Great project,Gov.harmonize and kick staff this project

  • Olaiye123

    They are one of the countries that contribute to Global warming but wants Africa to help them suck it out by remaining a backward continent and these Northern bigots will use that to slow down growth in the south.

    • emmanuel kalu

      you might be right. however that doesn’t mean that nigeria should destroy what it has. in those developed countries, their economy growth has destroy some places, however they have the know how and money to rebuild it and are doing some. there are some states in america that are spending billions of dollars rebuilding forest and protecting animals. does nigeria have the money or ability to do that?

      • Olaiye123

        There was an environmental impact assessment and the road is not passing through the Park. This has to be well articulated. The president is saying nofing bcos he does not care about the 5% who voted for him in Cross River.

  • emmanuel kalu

    if the Highway can be rerouted away from the park, it should be done. we don’t want to destroy a special park like that and we can generate huge revenue from that kind of park. costa rica is use is forest as huge revenue generator. reroute the road, and ensure that we protect the environment.

  • amador kester

    If the highway had been re- roouted away from the games park then why the ensuing environmental brouhaha? Of course a detailed environmental impact assessment programme should definitely preceed a cyclopean project of this magnitude capable of impacting the ecosystem anthropormorphically

  • Obiora Offor

    There is fear of an alternative to Lagos seaport. Even before the BH problem, there was no such concern when Sambisa Forest was gradually being destroyed.

  • Kingsley Lekan

    Why are all these people trying very hard to leave northern Cross River State in perpetual darkness as if the people are still in the medieval era.What has five hundred new species of butterflies or rabbits or monkeys have to do with the welfare of the people of Cross River State?Of all the places,it is the National Park that they are concentrating on,how do those foreign bodies get there;by helicopters?Can everyone own an helicopter?This is very unfair of the critics of Prof. Ayade’s initiative. THAT ROAD MUST BE CONSTRUCTED WHETHER DETRACTORS LIKE IT OR NOT.Why is sychophancy so poweful in this era?Must a governor belong to the ruling party before important projects such as that can fly?All these clog in the wheel of progress is very annoying. THAT ROAD HAS BEEN THE CAUSE OF MANY DEATH AND PEOPLE ARE BUSY TALKING ABOUT THE IMPORTANCE OF BUTTERFLIES AND MONKEYS TO UNESCO AND BRITAIN;THIS IS SO UNFAIR.Why are people from Northern Cross River State not making any case concerning this obvious deprivation of their welfare?Why are their voices not heard in support of the on-going project?Has there been any demonstration to that effect? Why bring partisan politics into a project which is to the common good of everyone in CRS and beyond?IF THE HIGHWAY CAN BE RE-ROUTED FROM THE PARK WHICH I THINK CAN BE,THEN LET THEM DO SO AND CONTINUE THE PROJECT SO THAT THE SOUTHWEST DO NOT CONTINUE ATTRACTING EVERYONE TO LAGOS WHILE THE NORTH SEES ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY TO SUPPORT THE REDUNDANCE IN THE FAR SOUTH-SOUTH ZONE. Prof Ayade is a good man and a great governor.There are very few of his kind in this part of the world. Many people have been governors of that state and none has every tried carrying out this major feat.I bet,many of them are very behind these people who are kicking against the project. It is a great shame for anyone from our beloved state to join detractors in these mischievous game of pulling down what has been begun already. Has Britain or UNESCO built any roads in CRS?What is their major concern with the welfare of the people of CRS. I HAVE NEVER BENEFITED FROM THESE TWO AND NO MEMBER OF MY FAMILY HAS. But the road will not only benefit my family but will also be of great benefit to many who ply that route.This will be in terms of smoothness of their journey. I AWAIT THE OUTCOME OF THESE ENVIOUS PEOPLE OR OPPRESSIVE PEOPLE’S ACTIONS AGAINST A PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER HAD ANY DIRECT BENEFIT FROM SUCH ELEMENTS. GLOBAL WARMING INDEED!WHAT’S WRONG WITH HAVING A GOOD ROAD AND A GOOD SEAPORT?THE CITIZENS OF CROSS RIVER STATE MUST WAKE UP TO THIS CLARION CALL TO DEMONSTRATE AND PROTEST THIS INJUSTICE THAT IS ABOUT TO BE PERPETRATED BY THESE WORLD BODIES IN CONJUNCTION WITH SOME DISGRUNTLED ELEMENTS IN OUR MIST WHO DO NOT WANT TO SEE THE PRESENT ADMINISTRATION LEAVE A LEGACY.

  • ukoette ibekwe

    So the NIgerian government has to take orders from foreign organizations on how to rule Nigeria. They want a reserve that the can visit and when they go back home they will have negative things to say about us. How many super highways are in these countries. Did their governments not have to destroy lands to develop such projects. Are the people inhabiting those areas complaining?

  • nuelsymbol

    We have lost so many valuable things in our History due to inexperience and lack of related knowledge . Ijaw and Southern part of Ondo State forest where Trees were fell indiscriminately have been lost forever along with both the Forest and River Species . It is saddened to some of us . .We don’t just have Govt with foresight . Our Leaders don’t see beyond their noses .Nigeria I hail thee

  • Raphael Asuquo

    this is a huge project and is to be toiled with.let us do the needful and see to it that this project hits the ground running. more so lets not destroy heritage because of one project. and let us not also stop a potential development like this one.

  • Saydo Shan

    The project is exaggeratingly over-inflated. It is a grand conspiracy to defraud the Nigerian state. There are many construction companies locally that would do high quality job at fraction of the cost being mentioned here.