President Mohammadu Buhari on Tuesday flagged off construction work on the new highway embarked on by the Cross River state government.
The president on arrival at the Calabar Airport was received by the host governor, Senator Ben Ayade.
Also at the airport to welcome President Buhari were the governors of Akwa Ibom state, Mr. Udom Emmanuel and his Imo State counterpart, Owelle Rochas Okorocha, members of the National Assembly, service commanders as well as the former governor of the state, Mr. Donald Duke.
Supporters of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in the state turned the president’s visit to a carnival as they trooped to storm the airport with various cultural displays.
After inspecting a guard of honour mounted by a detachment of officers and men of the Nigerian Army, Air Force and the Nigerian Navy at the airport, the president was flown in an Air Force helicopter to Obung, a community in Akamkpa Local Government Area of the state where he performed the ground breaking ceremony.
The president commended Governor Ayade for embarking on the project which he said will alleviate the difficulties encountered by road users in Cross River.NAN also reported that the President expressed the hope that the road would create a new vista of business opportunities for Cross River and the nation at large while launching the project and commended Governor Ben Ayade for his vision and foresight in conceptualising the project.
“So, I must at this juncture commend the state governor, Sen. Ben Ayade and his team for their foresight in conceptualising this project, given the multiplier effect these two laudable projects are expected to generate, in terms of aggregate spinoffs. I want to assure you of my determination and as well as the commitment of the Federal Government to ensuring that this road and indeed the seaport runs to a quick completion. Let me commend our young Governor, Professor Ben Ayade who globe-trotted to get these core foreign investors to invest in these huge projects.’’
According to the president, the road which will link south-south and northern parts of the country, when completed, will also ensure a reduction in travel time and man-hour, maintaining that the project was a significant milestone in the economic transformation agenda of the state.
Buhari pledged to be back for the inauguration of the project.
“I feel the warmth of your embrace and the passion in your gaze. The future of Cross River State is certain. I am one with you on this. I promise to come back to commission (inaugurate) this road upon completion and that is very soon too.’’
In his remarks, Ayade said apart from the road project, the state would also be constructing a deep sea port in Bakassi.
According to him, the two projects will be executed through the Public-Private Partnership (PPP).
He said the idea behind the projects rooted back to when the state lost its oil wells to Akwa Ibom upon the loss of Bakassi.
“The theological kinetics of this road started with the loss of our oil wells consequent upon the loss of Bakassi, therefore the state was reduced to wants in body and spirit.
“It became imperative that we reconstruct a new means of production; we need to open the horizon to get teeming young people employed.
It is against such background as I sought to leave this state it became very clear and evident that we must construct new means of production.
“Within the limit of our resources, the projects would have been impossible but because we know that you are the President of all, we know that once we dream, it is his duty to make the dream a reality that is why we dreamt that we need to construct a deep seaport.
“As soon as I sent a letter to you on the Bakassi seaport, it took less than one day in your office and it was minuted out.’’
On the 260km super highway, Ayade stated that it would serve as an evacuation corridor from the seaport.
“It will have a track of 14metres and a key wall of 680 metres that will allow for vessels from outside and every other vessel to berth.
“It will, therefore, provide an evacuation corridor for vessels, material and equipment lying in Calabar uniformly, effortlessly to Northern Nigeria.”
According to the governor, the existing federal road will require up to five to six hours to get to Benue State from Calabar but with the construction of this super highway, only one hour, 30 minutes will be spent.
“What is special about this super highway? It is that we have internet connectivity all through the highway, a photographic solar system with a satellite antenna.
“ Mr president, it is also going to be the first to have anti-sleep bumps on the highway.
“It is also going to be the first to have speed cameras. It is also going to be the first to have ambulatory services.
“Mr President, this road is a digital road, designed for the 21st century.’’
The governor expressed optimism that the road would be completed in the next four to five years.
“We envisioned that this road will be done in the next four to five years.
“We also have people who have collaborated and partnered with us.
“ They include an Israeli-British firm, the broad spectrum that had provided 500million euros.
“We also have Heritage, Skye and Zenith banks.
The about 264 kilometre road starts from Bakassi Local Government Area of the state and terminates in Katsina-Ala, Benue State.


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