FG gives conditions for Cross River’s super highway project
Following controversy generated by the proposed Cross River Super highway project, the federal authorities have given the State government 23 conditions to fulfill before embarking on the project.
Among the conditions are that Cross River State Government (CRSG) ensure that the updated maps in the new EIA must show the “re-routed road corridor cognisance of the boundary of Cross River National Park and Ekuri Community Forest as well as conform to international best practices on setbacks for highways in critical ecosystems such as the proposed corridor.”
Similarly, the road should neither cut through Ekuri nor the Cross national park.
The conditions were spelt out by the Federal Ministry of Environment during the hand over of the conditionally-approved EIA report to the Deputy Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ivara Esu.
The Minister of State for Environment, Ibrahim Usman Jibril, said that all conditions must be met before a final approval is given to the EIA report to signal commencement of work.
He demanded that the report/plan be revised and resubmitted within two weeks, that the EIA approval shall cover only the construction of a 275km long by 70m width Superhighway of six lanes including setbacks and other associated infrastructures such as eco-friendly bridges, culverts, drainages from Calabar to Katsina-Ala junction in Cross River State.
Government also demanded that the CRSG should ensure that the diverse management plans, which include Environmental Management Plan (EMP); Biodiversity Action Plan (BAP); Resettlement Action Plan (RAP); Livelihood Restoration Plan (LRP); Greenhouse Gas Management Plan (GHGMP); Public Consultation Plan (PCP); Waste Management Plan (WMP); Traffic Management Plan (TMP) as well as Labour and Human Resources Plan (LHRP) put in place for the road project are strictly adhered to as required throughout the project lifecycle.
Besides engaging a group of accredited consultants to effectively manage the diverse management plans for the proposed road project, the CRSG was likewise asked to ensure the realignment of the 275.344km road corridor from the boundary of the Cross River National Park is in line with the National Park Service (NPS) Act CAP LFN 2016.
The CRSG is also to gazette the reversal of revocation order on the acquisition of 10km on either side to the 70km span of the road corridor as well as the gazetting of the boundary of Cross River National Park within two weeks. the Governor Ben Ayande must gazette 70 metres wide of the road and not to expand beyond the permitted area, as well as not allow the project to pass through Ekuri Forest Reserve, among others.
The Director of Environmental Impact Assessment, John A. Alonge who made this known to The Guardian, said the ministry has already change the route to guide the state government on Super highway project.
He also explained that the road construction would not pass through National Park, as part of international best practices and the nation’s climate change agenda.
To him, state government cannot take more than 70 metres of the 20kilometres earlier proposed in the plan, stressing, the ministry have rejected three (3) E IA reports on the highway, “We are on the fourth report.”
The director further explained that the report would provide a variety of programmes for the state to compensate the indigenes in the affected areas as well as preserve national assets along the construction corridors.
In another development, Nigeria will mark the World Desertification Day Celebration, in August and hosted by Gombe State government.
The Director, Drought and Desertification Amelioration Department in the Federal Ministry of Environment, Aliyu Bananda, told The Guardian that United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) permits shifting of date for mobilization of men and resources for the event.
He said the reason for the shift was due to non-release of N4.5million appropriated in 2017 budget for celebration in Nigeria, and Gombe state graciously accepted to host this year programme.
Bananda also disclosed that federal government has embarked on planting of two hectares of fruits and economy trees in FCT, Jigawa and Gombe States to commemorate the day.
According to him, they are going into poverty alleviation projects, called Livelihood Enhancement Programme in 11 front line states and buffer states like Niger, Kaduna, Plateau, Nasarawa, Benue, Kogi, Kwara and FCT.
Explaining further, the director added, these states are the ones absorbing pressure generated from line states, adding, we are improving on past projects on desertification and land degradation.