President Muhammadu Buhari was yesterday at Obung Village, Netim Clam in Akampa Local Government Area of Cross River State to perform the ground-breaking for the construction of a 260-kilometre Super Highway to link Calabar, the Cross River State capital with the northern part of the country.
The President expressed the Federal Government’s commitment to the speedy completion of the dual carriage highway within the scheduled five years.
Besides exposing Cross River State to socio-economic opportunities, the project, when completed, will also attract patronage from Central Africa to the seaport in the Southsouth state.
Buhari said: “When completed, this road, which starts from the seaport and terminates at the boundary between Cross River and Benue states will link the southern part of Nigeria to the Northcentral, the Northeast and ultimately, Central Africa.
“This will, undoubtedly, expand the boundaries of our economy by providing countries such as Niger Republic and Chad access to the seaport.”
He commended Governor Ben Ayade and his team for creating a new vista of business opportunities for the state and the country.
Ayade’s colleagues from Imo and Akwa Ibom states , governors Rochas Okorocha and Udom Emanuel witnessed the ceremony.
The super highway, which is an evacuation corridor from a deep seaport in Bakassi, is expected to shorten travel time between Calabar and Katsina-Ala from about six hours to one hour thirty minutes. Both projects – super highway and the sea port – are estimated to cost about N700 billion.
Ayade listed the road’s special features to include: internet connectivity throughout the highway; a photographic solar system with a satellite antenna; and speed cameras.
He said: “It is probably the first road to have anti-slip features on the highway, it is a digital road designed for the 21st century. This road is a 260km super highway; it’s an evacuation corridor from the seaport. It will have a track of 14 metres and a key wall of 680 metres that would allow for vessels from outside and every other vessel to berth. It will therefore provide an evacuation corridor for vessels, material and equipment lying in Calabar uniformly, effortlessly to Northern Nigeria.”
With a take-off grant of 500 million Euros, the project will be financed by partners under a public-private-partnership (PPP) arrangement, the governor said.
According to him, the project was borne out of a need to reduce dependence on federal allocation, consequent upon the loss of the state’s oil wells to neighbouring Akwa Ibom State and the ceding of the mineral-rich Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroon.
He said: “The state was reduced to wants in body and spirit. It became imperative that we need to construct a new means of production, we needed to open the horizon to get more young people employed.”
Ayade urged his colleagues from Benue and Nasarawa states to key into the project and ensure that the roads spread over from Katsina-Ala. He commended the President for shelving politics and putting national interest first in deciding to perform such a function in a state not controlled by the ruling the All Progressives Congress (APC).
“Given the circumstances of our nation and politics, Cross River State would not have been worthy of your first port of call. You have shown that you are truly the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria,” he said.
The President, he noted, gave his support for the project from inception to ensure that the dream of the state becomes a reality.
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