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Coastal highways dump: EIA would’ve saved businesses destroyed

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Coastal highways dump: EIA would've saved businesses destroyed

As the federal government reportedly dumps the Lagos-Calabar coastal highways project to revert to old plan, criticisms have been heaped on the government for refusing to carry out EIA of the project before proceeding.

 

On Thursday, May 23, reports said the Minister of Works, David Umahi, disclosed at stakeholders meeting that the new plan of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highways would be abandoned for the old plan. Reports said David Umahi said underground cables that would be destroyed by the coastal highways project were responsible for the new decision.

 

Umahi was also quoted to say concerns raised by network operators that Nigeria would be in network crisis was a concern the federal government had to adjust to. This, report said, was responsible for the plan of the government to dump the coastal highways project new plan for the old plan.

 

“At the 3rd Stakeholders Meeting for the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway, Minister of Works David Umahi has announced that they will be diverting away from the proposed new alignment that would’ve destroyed ancestral lands and possibly affected submarine cables,” Laila Johnson, a journalist covering the coastal project reported on Thursday.

 

“The submarine cables that the new alignment for the coastal highway would’ve possibly affected connect billions of people and are critical to national security,” Laila added on her X handle.

 

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The new decision by Umahi has been greeted with condemnation, as many businesses have been destroyed by the federal government. One of which was the Landmark Beac Resort, a $100 million valued business.

 

The federal government had been questioned if the government carried out Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) before carrying out coastal highway project. While the government claimed it did, new evidence shows otherwise, according to experts.

 

Ataedo Peterside, President and Founder, Anap Foundation and Anap Jets, said the new decision of the government after destroying Landmark ecosystem business would have been avoided had the government carried out EIA.

 

The Founder of Stanbic IBTC Bank and  Co-Chair, Agenda 2050 Steering Committee, added that public projects require not just EIA but public hearings and competitive bidding process.

 

Peterside said the lack of important steps the government should have taken before commencing the coastal highways project would have addressed the loss of livelihoods destroyed.

 

“This is precisely why a proper Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) should have been carried out some sort of public hearing that would have given affected persons a voice.

 

“Unless I am mistaken, it appears that FG has destroyed properties along a new chosen path re new Lagos-Calabar Coastal Rd only to realize now that sticking to the original path (as argued by Landmark Africa and others) makes so much more sense?
I sincerely hope that I am wrong, but please let us take EIA seriously in future,” Atedo Peterside said.

 

Osasu Obayiuwana said the admittance by Umahi that the demotions carried out on Landmark and other beach businesses considered to be in right of way of the coastal highways project showed the federal government was avoidable with EIA report. “Paul Onwuanibe (Landmark Africa CEO) and his Landmark Africa group have been well and truly shafted by Nigeria government after Dave Umahi effectively told the public yesterday that there was no need for the demolitions done, as they are sticking to the original route for the coastal road,” Osasu added.

 

According to Laila, “several communities within phase one of the project pleaded for the new alignment in their areas not to stand”, during the Thursday stakeholders meeting; but “the Minister of Works rejected these requests, standing by the new alignment. The only change approved was within kilometers 16-25.”

 

She further added, “Kilometers 16-25 has nothing to do with Landmark. Landmark is within kilometers 1-4. The government is not going back to their original alignment for the whole first phase of the road, just for kilometers 16-25. After km 25, the new alignment will continue.”

 

Umahi, however, maintained that the EIA report of the coastal highways project would not be released by the federal government.