A Typical Superhighway
By Abdallah el-Kurebe
A Cross River-based Environmental non-governmental organisation, the Rainforestest Resources and Development Centre (RRDC) has questioned the credibility of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) draft report prepared by PMG Nigeria Limited on the proposed Ikom-Katsina Ala Superhighway for Cross River state government.
A strement signed by the Executive Director of RRDC, Prince Odey Oyama faulted the report, saying that it only seeks to misinform the Federal Ministry of Environment about the potential impacts of the project.
According to the Centre, “The Rainforest Resource and Development Centre (RRDC) have read through the 443 pages
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) draft report of the proposed Ikom – Katsina Ala Superhighway
project prepared by PMG Nigeria Limited (the EIA Consultant) for the Cross River State Government,
submitted to the Federal Ministry of Environment in March 2016. Having carefully analysed the said
report, we have come to the conclusion that the said draft report is a deliberate attempt to misinform the Federal Ministry of Environment about the true potential impacts of the proposed superhighway project.”
RRDC observed that critical elements of the project, which included the buffer zones that covers a land mass of 20 kilometres throughout the length of the project had been omitted.
Citing a part of the report, RRDC alleged that the superhighway maps for the proposed project that are displayed in the EIA were doctored versions of the authentic map of the proposed project.
It further observed that while “all the maps displayed in the EIA only show the center-line of the superhighway, the Notice of Acquisition the Cross River
State Government published in the Weekend Chronicle of 22nd January, 2016 refers to 5,200Km of land that the government intends to acquire for the project. This includes 200m span for the right-of-way on either side of the center line of the road and a massive land mass designated as Buffer Zone,
spanning 10km on either side of the center-line of the super highway.”
Describing the absence of the buffer zones from the maps contained in the report as lack of transparency, the Centre also stated that since the EIA report was concerned only with the pathway of the center-line of the superhighway, “then the EIA is invalid by reason of the fact that it has not captured the whole territory that will be impacted by the project.”
It further stated that if the report intended to capture the entire territory that would be impacted by the project, “the deliberate omission of the contentious buffer zones from the maps shown in the EIA report point in the direction of lack of transparency. It is our considered opinion that the omission of the buffer zones from the maps displayed in the EIA (currently placed before the Federal Ministry of Environment for scrutiny) makes the EIA invalid.”
The Centre viewed the omission as “a deliberate effort at misguiding the Federal Ministry of Environment and all other stakeholders in respect of the review of EIA report,” further alleging that it was aimed at trucking the government of Cross River state “to use deceptive documents to obtain EIA approval and thereafter stand on such approvals to grab indigenous community lands.”
The Group drew the attention of this Federal Ministry of Environment that, although the road project is traversing through some parts of the gazzetted territory of the Oban Hill Division of the Cross River National Park, “the EIA report has deliberately omitted to comment on the potential impact of the project on the Park.”
It alleged that the omission of the potential impacts of the superhighway project on the Oban Hill Division of the Cross River National Park was a deliberate contravention of the demands of the National Park Service Act, CAP N65.
RRDC added that the EIA report also failed to account for the potential impact of the superhighway project on Afi Wildlife Sanctuary. “This encroachment is highly objectionable on account of the fact that Afi Wildlife Sanctuary is a highly acclaimed biodiversity hotspot which has been receiving
favourable responses from International donors towards the purpose of sustaining its ecological integrity,” it stated.
The Group appealed to the Federal Ministry of Environment to demand for the complete disclosure of all the territories intended to be affected by the project before considering the EIA report. “This disclosure must in particular include the over 180 indigenous communities that are in danger of losing their ancestral lands,
cultural and natural heritages if this project should receive an EIA approval based on the false premises of the EIA report and its craftily doctored maps and information,” the statement concluded.