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April 30, 2024

Lagos-Calabar Highway is job-losing project, stop it now – Peter Obi tells Tinubu 

Lagos-Calabar Highway is job-losing project, stop it now - Peter Obi tells Tinubu 

LP presidential candidate, Peter Obi and President Bola Tinubu

By Biodun Busari

The 2023 presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi, has called on President Bola Tinubu to discontinue the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project to save jobs for Nigerians.

Obi said the project is a misplaced priority by the Federal Government adding that jobs would be lost to add to the current unemployment.

Vanguard recalls that the Minister of Works, Engr David Umahi, recently said the government is constructing the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway at a total cost of N4 billion per kilometre.

This signified that the total project of 700 kilometres will be completed at the cost of N2. 8 trillion.

The FG has, then, begun the demolition of structures on the right-of-way of the Lagos-Calabar coastal road project.

The coastal road is designed to connect Lagos to Cross River state, passing through Ogun, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Rivers, and Akwa Ibom states

On Saturday, April 27, Umahi flagged off the demolition exercise at the Mani Chula Beach, Oniru Waterfront, a section of the Landmark Beach.

The former Ebonyi governor said the beach was within the coastal corridor and legitimately in the federal government’s right-of-way, stressing that owners of affected properties along the coastal highway would be compensated.

Reacting to the development on Tuesday via his X page, Obi said the FG is insensitive to the cries of the people, as the project would amount to destruction of businesses and wastage of investments, adding to existing loss of jobs.

He wrote, “Contrary to reason and the necessity for compassion in public policy, the federal government has commenced the controversial Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project.

“The outcry against this project has been overwhelming due to the current situation in the country. However, reports as of yesterday indicate that demolition of businesses and residences in the designated right of way for the project has commenced from the Lagos end.

“The sight of this insensitive demolition is heart-wrenching. Livelihoods are being wiped away, lifetime investments are being wasted, and jobs are disappearing as bulldozers roar through. The homes of the elderly are being overturned by the power of bulldozers.

“This hasty flag-off defies the widespread outcry by the public, especially business and property owners directly affected by the project. Nobody knows the outcry that will accompany this project as it progresses towards poor rural landscapes.

“Thousands of jobs are about to be lost, with investments above $200 million at risk. Over 100,000 jobs in the leisure and hospitality sector face imminent extinction, along with 80 small businesses and their 4000 mostly youth employees.

“At a time of rampant unemployment, the government is embarking on a job-losing project. The economic losses currently observed are primarily limited to the initial kilometers in the Lagos area.

“However, the 700 km stretch of this road will pass through rural regions where affected individuals lack the voice, power, or influence to assert their rights. Significant sections of the public have questioned the process preceding the project’s approval, yet the government remains deaf to reason and caution.

“While acknowledging the economic value of the road, its conception dating back to Tafewa Balewa’s time, several parameters have changed. Insecurity and poverty are rampant, placing this project lower on today’s national priorities.

“It’s time to question the rationale and timing of this and similar projects. The nation is in its worst economic state in history, with poverty and hunger spreading. The basic necessities of life are beyond reach for most Nigerians.

“This is a moment when a committed government cannot embark on non-essential projects. Existing highways urgently need maintenance, and insecurity makes travel unsafe.

“Just a few days ago, many lives were lost, and over 70 vehicles were burned in a fuel tanker explosion that occurred on the East-West road in Rivers State. This tragic accident was primarily caused by the extremely poor condition of the road, which has been neglected for years and urgently needs attention. Our economy is struggling, and our health institutions are ill-equipped. Why embark on an expensive new highway project when there are close to 50 abandoned federal highway projects across the country?

“The urgent necessities are nationwide security, poverty eradication, healthcare, and education, especially for the poor and underprivileged. It’s not too late to discontinue the Lagos-Calabar highway project.

“We cannot afford another expensive abandoned project. Nigeria’s urgent development needs are more real and essential. We do not need landscape decoration escapades.”

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