LAST week Tuesday, October 20, 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari braved a heavy downpour to perform the groundbreaking rites of an ambitious project that has now come to be known as the Cross River State Superhighway. If completed in the next five years as planned, it will be a 260 kilometre-long dual-carriage road that will start from Obung Village in Akamkpa Local Government Area of Cross River State and terminate at the boundary with Benue State.
According to the state Governor, Ben Ayade, the road which will be financed on the public-private partnership model (though details of how the financing strategy will be perfected was not disclosed) will cost a princely sum of N700 billion.
An upbeat Governor Ayade described the project with these words: “It (will probably be) the first road to have anti-slip features on the highway, it is a digital road designed for the 21st Century…it is an evacuation corridor from the (Calabar) Seaport…”
We are pleased that the Cross River State Government is taking up the challenge of opening up such an ambitious road corridor in a part that has been in the economic shadows of the nation. We are also impressed that President Buhari shrugged off partisan considerations to encourage a non-All Progressives Congress (APC) state to commence this laudable project with a pledge to do all that is possible to ensure it is completed to the benefit of the state and the nation at large.
This is a pleasant departure from the past when Buhari, as a military leader, cancelled the Lagos Metro proposed by the Alhaji Lateef Jakande administration, a project that if it had been carried out, would have helped in curing Lagos of its suffocating traffic snarls.
This road, if completed, will have far reaching, positive impacts on the economic and social lives of the people of the entire former Eastern Region, while opening up new vistas into the Middle Belt zone and the nearby Central African economic environments.
We hope, however, that the Cross River State Government and its partners in this project have done their homework to ensure it is fully realised rather than being abandoned after large sums of public and private investors’ funds have been sunk into it. The state should learn from its experiences of equally ambitious but largely failed ventures such as the abandoned Tinapa project.
The successful completion of this road has the potentials to wake up Tinapa and fulfill the yearning of the state to overcome the handicaps of being denied of its oil-producing, littoral state status and the ceding of Bakassi Peninsula to Cameroun. We, therefore, urge that no effort should be spared to ensure the road is completed on schedule.