The National Co-ordinator, Coalition of Environmental Non-Governmental Organisations, Dr Odigha Odigha, said that he would ensure the release of the Environment Impact Specimen (EIS) on the Cross River SuperHighway, before work starts on the project.
Odigha made the remark in Lagos.
He was reacting to the Federal Ministry of Environment’s conditional approval of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the Superhighway in June.
According to him, the conditional approval of the EIA means that there are certain criteria the state government would meet before the commencement of work on the project.
“The Coalition of Environmental NGOs is not against the Cross River Superhighway project. What we are saying is that the road project should not pass through the Cross River National Park and the rain forest. It should also observe and fulfil the human rights of the people and the communities the road project will affect. The conditional approval of the EIA is in line with our demands. It provides for buffer zones of 10 kilometres on both sides of the road and the re-routing of the road project away from the National Park and the rain forest, among others,’’ he said.
The National Co-ordinator said that there were all together 23 conditions the state government would meet, before work starts on the project.
He said that the conditional approval also required the state governor to make gazetted publication to the effect that all the conditions had been met.
Odigha said that it was not enough for Governor Ben Ayade to say that the state would use the EIA to look for funds to finance the project.
He said the governor should also work with his team to prepare the EIS on the project.
Odigha said that environmentalists were happy that the EIA was prepared and a conditional approval given by the Federal Ministry of Environment.
He enjoined the relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies to ensure that the conditions were met by the Cross River State Government.
Odigha said that the Coalition of Environmental NGOs and Nigerian environmentalists would not rest until the conditions were met before allowing the project to kick off.
He said that what happened to the remaining Nigerian forests should be of interest to the entire nation.
According to him, the struggle is to have a good environment not just for ourselves but for unborn generations of Nigerians.
The Superhighway was planned to be a 12-lane, 260 km (162 miles) long road, which will link a proposed deep seaport from Bakassi on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean to the border with neighbouring Benue State.