Cross River Pristine Forest: Do We Allow It To Go For A Brand New Development?

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Development as it pertains other facets of life requires sacrifice. In economist, this can be termed as “opportunity cost or forgone alternative”. This is exactly the quagmire that the people of Cross River are facing as it stands with the construction of the super highway. A landmark project that will leapfrog the erstwhile oil producing state to the comity of progressive states in Nigeria.  The construction of the Super Highway has frayed a lot of nerves with the environmentalist and the  modernist on a showdown.  On the other hand, the communities are crying blue murder because of their source of livelihood, the Pristine Forest will be affected. Trees  are going to be chopped down , Livelihood punctured or changed dramatically, all in a bid to make way for the Super Highway. This is the quagmire is what the the citizens of Cross River State have found themselves i.  Literary, they are presumed to be at a crossroad.

The Project ,  an impressive  six-lane wide and 260km long highway with broadband. This  can be said to be  an ambitious project. The Super Higway is  planned to lead from the Bakassi deep-sea port in Calabar, all the way to Benue State via Akamkpa and Ikom and cutting through several protected forest reserves and abutting the western boundary of the Cross River National Park – the Oban Division. This singular road will open up the rural region of  the world via the sea port. A benefit of the South Eastern and Niger Delta region , including the middle belt areas of the country.

Before you crucify the state indigenous on the altar of backwardness and poor environmentalism, bear in mind that Cross River is host to the largest remaining rainforests of Nigeria and one of the largest bio-diversity forests in the world, serving as home to highly threatened species, including the Cross River gorilla, Nigeria-Cameroon chimpanzee, drill monkeys, 1,568 plant species of which 77 are endangered medicinal plants and orchids. This  construction project will endanger the already endangered species and it will be a loss not only to the nation but globally.

The people of Akpabuyo, Bakassi, Akamkpa, Yakurr, Obubra, Etung, Ikom, Boki and Bekwara local government areas are not comfortable with the sort of development, having assembled environmentalist and raised a national awareness. As it stands now, the project seems to be halted. Though, Ekuri-Eyeyeng, Tara and Okuni areas have been bulldozed. The federal government has assuaged the  indigenous that adequate compensation would be made an made them understand the need to open up the region.

The groundbreaking ceremony and visit by President Buhari was postponed because of non-existence of Proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). Within this period there was a re-routing of the highway to move it outside the National Park. This single lack of global accepted EIA has hampered the development of  this project , prompting  stakeholders to go back to the drawing board and have series of consultation with the indigenous and conservatism. This has necessitated that the government re-route the road project to circumnavigate it or move it outside the forest areas. Enviromentalist are not finding this arrangement appealing.  Will the indigenous of the affected areas  sacrifice their environment, culture and way of life for the benefit of the whole country. As it stands now, it is  a case of who blinks first. With the redesigning of the super highway, the federal government will have the day. They always have the day.

 

 

Christopher  Nwosu

 

 

 

The construction of the Super Highway has frayed a lot of nerves with the environmentalist and the  modernist on a showdown.  On the other hand, the communities are crying blue murder because of their source of livelihood, the Pristine Forest will be affected. Trees  are going to be chopped down , Livelihood punctured or changed dramatically, all in a bid to make way for the Super Highway. This is the quagmire is what the the citizens of Cross River State have found themselves i.  Literary, they are presumed to be at a crossroad.
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