By Geoffery Gogo
The Cross River state government and conservationists have continued to disagree over what will be the impact of the 23 conditions handed the state to meet before resumption of work at the 275km SuperHighway.
While the conservationists doubt government ability to meet those conditions with some even arguing against the construction of road at all, government insists on the other hand that an EIA does not seek to stop development but to rather enhance it and assured that government will meet those conditions and work will resume by the turn of dry season.
Comrade Edem Edem, one of the advocates against the superhighway while speaking on the conditions on ‘The Dialogue With Agba Jalingo,’ a weekly radio program on HIT 95.9FM Calabar, accused the government of lack of transparency in the award of contracts for the superhighway, unwillingness to pay compensation to affected communities, threat to the Ekuri forests among others.
He added that he will not support the Super Highway even if the conditions been stipulated by the Federal Ministry of Environment are all met by the State.
But, the Chairman of the Cross River State Infrastructure Company Limited (INFRACROSS), Chief Eugene Akeh, speaking on the same program said, the Ayade’s critics are having challenges grasping his developmental vision because the governor thinks above his contemporaries.
“there is no form of undertaking by any government or individual that would not experience hurdles and storms. That is the result you get when you think above your contemporaries. The super highway will someday be remembered by future generations as one of the greatest vision and projects ever embarked upon by the state.” Chief Akeh said.
“all problems associated with the initial rejection of the EIA have been duly addressed, one of which was the geotechnical engineering design.
“EIA does not say you should not build a road, no law in EIA says you should not bring development to your people, all EIA is concerned about is how the environment will be conserved in the course of carrying out the project, and how you intend to ameliorate the project.
“There is no EIA that is a sentence with noun, a verb, and adjective or a full stop. EIA is a journey, and the process is carried out till the end. In all facets of the journey, inspections will be carried out to ensure that the standard of work conforms to that of the approved EIA, he added.
On compensation and funding, Akeh said the government has not yet put a value on compensation, and said that the area is a green field area where people have never resided.
He further disclosed that the state has a long list of companies and investors from China, Japan, Europe and America who are eagerly waiting to invest in the super highway, but have been delayed by the late approval of the EIA.