By Jonathan Ugbal: Government House Correspondent
Cross River Governor, Senator Ben Ayade has flagged off the construction of the one billion dollars Calabar Virgin City located at Etap Ayip Kasuk community of Calabar municipal local government area of southern Cross River State.
The city, situated near the rice city and Ayade industrial boulevard is billed to have a building materials market, auto parts market, wood market, water world fairground, artificial lake, golf arena, clothing market, hotel, Residential area auxiliary, dance square, kindergarten, primary and secondary schools, supermarket as well as a hospital.
And, Ayade who said he does not get involved in something that does not work, averred that: “The philosophy, sophistry and class that I represent believes that in theory, in practice, whatever I set out to do, I must do so within the ambits of law and logic.
“As I come before you, I make it a precondition that I won’t be here before you unless there is a clear and classical connotation and clarification that indeed once we do the groundbreaking, work will start the following day. And so that is why I am here.”
Mr. Ayade said that the project was birthed when he visited the Jianing province in China and maintained that the company moved in first because it understands the vision and potential of the deep seaport.
He posited that the rippling effect of the construction of the deep seaport and superhighway on the local economy will be huge as about 35,000 people will be engaged at the peak of construction and there was need to provide accommodation hence the need to partner with people who aligned with the vision of the state.
“They (Mark Sino) thought that they can see the harbinger of a new environment and new economic landscape coming up in Cross River State.
“And so for those who have the vision to see tomorrow. For those who have clairvoyance and the clairvoyant to see the prosperity which lies ahead of us tomorrow; I think it is in that spirit of smartness that they have come far ahead of everybody,” said Ayade.
On local content, Ayade said that: “We are going to ensure that the community is a part of core function of the organ of this investment.
“Recruitment of labor, emphasis will be given to the host community. So the host community, you have a priority role to play. Also, we will ensure that if there are small short contracts to be given, again, this community will have priority because we want to ensure that you become stable because we don’t want to build an estate that the community itself will not afford to live in.”
He continued: “Let it not be that we take our land and then invest and then the community becomes too low compared to the development, disbalancing the natural ecosystem and making it impossible.”
Earlier, Ntoe Ededem Iyito, the clan head of Kasuk 2 qua clan had appealed to the state to carry the community along during the construction phases.
The project is a partnership between Mark Sino, a Chinese construction coy operating a quarry in Akamkpa local government area of southern Cross River State government. The contractors are Baishan Zhontian Development Group.
And, commissioner for lands, Mr. John Inyang in his remarks said that it was in line with the vision of the Governor and promised that he will relocate his office to the site to ensure speedy delivery on the project.
Meanwhile, the Chairman, Mark Sino construction coy limited, Mr. Wei Hengshan who spoke through an interpreter said: “The sky is blue, Calabar land is green and since we visited Calabar in October, we made up our mind to come in and invest.
“Our investment here will draw other firms to this place; change the lives of the citizenry.
“We will use high quality materials, and high speed to build the city. In fact, advanced technology products will be used here. This city will have among other things, auto spare parts, manufacturing markets, schools and hospitals. We will truly work according to job specification as we appreciate the confidence the Government of Cross River State has in us to deliver.”