Saturday, October 24, 2015 2:29 pm
Reuben Bojor/ Calabar.
About eight months in the new administration, Governor Ben Ayade of Cross River State has commenced work on his signature projects with the ground breaking ceremony of the 260-km Super Highway which President Muhammadu Buhari performed.
The signature projects are the Deep Sea Port located around Bakassi water ways and the Atlantic Ocean and the 260-km Super Highway which will link Calabar Metropolis to Katsina Ala in Benue State.
The ceremony was performed by President Muhammadu Buhari on 20th October 2015, in Obung village of Akamkpa Local Government Area of the State.
The President while commending the Governor for the visionary projects which would expand the economic frontiers of not just the state and the entire country but part of the Sub-African region as it would open doors to domestic and foreign markets, pledged that the Federal Government would support the State Government to actualize its dream.
“That I am personally here to perform the groundbreaking shows the importance my government attaches to this project which is a significant milestone in the economic development of not just Cross River State but the entire country. The road will open up a new vista of economic opportunities for Nigeria as it will bring multiplier effect to the economy and more importantly this is happening under my Presidency. I assure my brother and governor of Cross River State, Professor Ben Ayade, of my commitment and that of the Federal Government, to ensure its completion and that of the Deep Sea Port.”
In his remark, Governor Ayade, said the idea behind the projects dated back to when the state lost its oil wells to Akwa Ibom upon the loss of Bakassi. “It started with the loss of our oil wells consequent upon the loss of Bakassi, therefore the state was reduced to wants in body and spirit. It became imperative that we reconstruct a new means of production, we need to open the horizon to get our teeming young people employed. It is against such backdrop that it became very clear and evident that we must construct new means of production. Within the limit of our resources, the projects would have been impossible but because we know that you are the president of all, we know that once we dream, you will make the dream a reality. That is why we dreamt that we need to construct a deep seaport.”
According to him, the project which would be completed between four and five years, would serve as an evacuation corridor for goods and personnel from the Deep Sea Port in Bakassi in the southern part of the country, to the northern part of the country. The Super Highway would ease traffic with an hours drives from Calabar Metropolis to Katsina-Ala, a border town between Cross River and Benue as against the four and five hours commuters are used to.
On issues concerning financing, the Governor said, the two projects will be executed through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP) with the Bank of Infrastructure and several commercial banks already investing 500 million Euros to fast-track its construction.
However, many critics went to town, raising the impacts of the project to the environment (especially the National Park), abandonment of the already existing federal highway and that the new port will lead to reduction of activities in the port the south-western region.
The Deputy Speaker of the State House of Assembly, Joseph Bassey, however, argued: “Controversy was expected. This is a project on which we as stakeholders carried out investigation and we saw the result. If it would not work, we would have appealed to the governor to opt out. Let’s Cross Riverians be patient and they will reap the benefits.’
The road would have digital internet connectivity all through the 260-kilometre distance, speed cameras and toilet facilities, among others.
Other dignitaries in attendance were former governors of the State (Mr. Donald Duke and Liyel Imoke), Governors Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom and Rochas Okorocha of Imo states.