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Lagos-Calabar Highway: FG leaves shoreline to save telecom cables | Read more

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Lagos-Calabar Highway: FG leaves shoreline to save telecom cables | Read more

Nigeria’s Minister of Works, Dave Umahi, has announced that the federal government will do away with the proposed new route of the Lagos-Calabar coastal highway from kilometres 16 to 25 of the 47-kilometre highway, and revert to the gazetted alignment.

 

Umahi disclosed this in Lagos at the 3rd stakeholders meeting of the coastal highway project on Thursday.

During a two-hour session that included  presentations and a question and answer segment, Umahi invited representatives of telecommunications companies affected by the ongoing project, residents of Okun Ajah community, as well as other stakeholders, to make a case for why the new alignment should be altered.

He revealed that reverting to the old alignment would see 750 houses demolished (though illegally built he said), while the new alignment will lead to the demolition of 490 houses. According to him it was a tough decision either way. He urged those for and against to speak.

 

Highlighting the concerns of MTN, 2Africa and other telecoms companies was the Group CEO of Machine and Equipment Consulting of Africa.

“We have three critical infrastructure that are located on one spot. One is the 2Africa submarine cable that cuts across 33 countries connecting about three billion people. That cable landed at Mopo and where it landed, the West African cable systems (WACS) had already been located there about 17 years ago.

“We have a mega IPP which is to provide power to the 2Africa cable and the WACS cable. The power plant is a 50 megawatt power plant expected to support this infrastructure.

 

“The (new) corridor is passing right on the submarine cable and the other side is on the IPP. You cannot have the submarine cables without power. They will not function. The submarine cable is a critical national security infrastructure. If it is affected, everybody will be affected,” he said.

He made reference to the recent subsea cable diruptions that caused internet outages in several countries across Africa.

 

“Two months ago, there was a challenge as far as Cote d’Ivoire but a significant part of Africa was blanked out. Our appeal today is in view of the fact that this is not just a private project, it’s a national project, it’s the internet gateway to the nation and it’s linked to national security.

“We are therefore appealing that for this critical infrastructure located at Mopo, that the road be diverted back to the original gazette.

“We welcome and commend the federal government for building this road, we think this is a major national infrastructure that enhances development, but we’re appealing that for such national telecommunications infrastructure, government should find a way of being sensitive to that reality, and divert the road away from this critical national infrastructure.”

 

Following several interventions and appeals catering to diverse interests, Umahi said:

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have our proposal here and we have the old alignment, the gazetted alignment.

“To the glory of God, to solve MTN, 2Africa and Okun Ajah community (complaints), we are diverting completely from the new alignment and we are rejoining back to our new alignment at kilometer 25. Congratulations.”

This revelation was met with rancorous applause and palpable relief by residents of Okun Ajah, who had previously expressed their concerns over the potential demolition of their properties, including ancestral homes, due to the controversial highway project.

 

The revised alignment – apart from preserving the community’s heritage – also avoids disrupting essential infrastructure, especially submarine communications cables. Stakeholders present hailed what they deemed an indication of a responsive and adaptive approach by government to their concerns.

Umahi made sure to reveal that the decision was not necessarily because of pushback from the communities affected, but solely due to President Bola Tinubu’s intervention.

Following Umahi’s pronouncement, members of the Okun Ajah community praised the Tinubu administration for the decision not to pass the new coastal alignment through their axis.

 

 

Arise

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