By Ushang Ewa
A former Works Commissioner and Chairman of Calabar South Local Government Area, Bassey Ekefre has said that the Federal Government (FG) would have been more interested in a railway project than the superhighway and deep seaport project Governor Ben Ayade discussed with the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
Mr. Ayade visited Abuja last week Tuesday and returned to Calabar on Monday after meeting with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha.
He told newsmen after the meeting that the Federal Government had indicated interest on the two projects which are part of his signature projects.
But, Ekefre, in a chat with CrossRiverWatch averred that discussing a project such as the Calabar – Maiduguri rail project transversing five States whose feasibility study was already paid for by the former Governor of Adamawa State, Murtala Nyako would have been a better deal.
“The provision of a railway from Calabar to Maiduguri would have been more interesting to the Federal Government than a road.
“There was a feasibility study paid for by the Adamawa Governor, Nyako on behalf of the 5 Governments of Cross River, Benue, Taraba, Adamawa and Borno States for the sole purpose of carrying goods and with a stop at the foot of the ranch. This happened when I was the Commissioner for Special Project in Cross River State between 2008-2011,” Ekefre, who also served on the working group of NEITI said.
According to him, there have been attempts to lobby Ayade to push for the railway project which he refused, insisting on the superhighway.
“The feasibility is with the State Government and all efforts to make the Governor to lobby the FG and his Colleagues in other States in 2015 did not yield any success as he was bent on the super Highway,” Ekefre disclosed.
Ekefre went on to say say that the rail project was, “eventually approved by the Jonathan Administration late 2014 and passed to the Ministry of Transport to re evaluate for implementation.”
However, there is a new twist as, the current Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi is said to have pushed for a longer route from his native Rivers State.
“Unfortunately, Amaechi has now pushed for Port Harcourt to Maiduguri instead of the Calabar to Maiduguri which is shorter and would have solved some under employment within the aforementioned States,” Ekefre said.
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