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Fashola advocates land for infrastructure

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Fashola advocates land for infrastructure

By Perpetua Onuegbu

The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, has advised communities seeking infrastructure to be ready to cede land to pave the way for construction.

Fashola said this during the inspection of the new 1.2 km two-lane Ikom Bridge, which is to replace the old colonial-era single-lane bridge, Monday in Cross River.

He said the goal of the Buhari administration was to expand, renew and improve the quality of Nigeria’s infrastructure, including railways, airports, seaports, roads and bridges.

He explained that the old bridge had a low roof and that for this reason some of the large cargoes, ships and trucks could not evacuate to Calabar.

“Some spots have been damaged on the roof of the head as a result of the impact of the trucks, so this bridge fixes that problem and so you would expect more trade and shipping to come to Calabar now.

“Because it is the A4 axis from Calabar to Maiduguri via Ogoja and it is no coincidence that Cross River bears its name; there is in fact a river which names the state, and which opens on the sea and on the Gulf of Guinea for a high impact international trade.

“This is infrastructure in line with Buhari’s economic recovery and growth plan to increase trade and improve the ease of doing business.

“And for those who still have doubts, the first bridge we went to was a loan from the African Development Bank and the one we are on was largely funded by Sukuk.

“So you see what the government is doing with the money it has raised,” the minister said.

On the Calabar-Itu road, Fashola said there were two entrepreneurs there, adding that the entrepreneurs are capable and willing; what is needed is a cash back.

“Our entrepreneurs have the experience, but the real deal is the money and let me also take this opportunity to say along this axis, there are issues of compensation by the communities.

“So those who want infrastructure must be prepared to donate land; we are not taking your land away from you, we are simply asking for a right of way.

“So when you start making claims almost equal to the cost of the construction, where are we going to get the money from.

“The president said if you need infrastructure, you should be able to cede land and that land belongs to the state and the communities.

“I want to appeal to the communities along the Calabar-Itu axis to allow us to pass. We will leave a reasonable amount for the harvest, so we expect to see more cooperation and this is the way to go, ”said Fashola.

Offering more information on the projects executed by the government, Mr. Bassey Nsentip, the works controller of Cross Rivers, said that the Calabar-Oban road has been completed.

“They are of two sections; Calabar in Oban is about 60 km away and it has already been awarded.

“And then between Oban and the Cameroonian border; Ekan because from Calabar to Ekan and the border is about 128 km, so 60 km have been allocated now.

Also speaking during the inspection, Gov. Ben Ayade of Cross Rivers appreciated all of the federal government’s efforts to build infrastructure in the state.

Ayade was represented by Mr. Daniel Osimatsu, State Commissioner for Works.

“We really like the government, out of 11 Section A projects at Cross Rivers this is the seventh and the addition of the other two makes it nine.

“To name a few, the Ikom-Alesi road is finished; Mge-Ebiase road completed; Ebiase at the Urugbane junction, the allocation of the Calabar Est road to Julius Berger and the trans-African road.

“As we know, road infrastructure facilitates communication, facilitates growth and the economy.

“We appreciate it as a government because in the last six years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government we have had unprecedented access and presence of these projects in Cross Rivers State,” the governor said.

He pledged the support of the state government in ensuring that it makes the environment conducive and provides the required matching funds for such development projects.

“In addition, we are discussing with the locals to reduce the cost of compensation, it is the duty of the state government, especially along this Calabar-Itu road.

“We have managed this, the Ministry of Lands has managed this and reduced the cost of the compensation which will facilitate the construction,” said Ayade. (NAN)

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