We prefer Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Highway to Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway… Radio Callers-in 

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Nigerians resident in and indigenous to Cross River have expressed their preference for the yet-to-be completed Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Federal Road to the recently initiated Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway. The Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Highway connects the state with the neighbouring state of Akwa Ibom, other states of the south south geopolitical zone and the entire country by extension.

They expressed this concern last Saturday via a call-in radio talk show called Political X-ray which is hosted on Sparkling 92.3FM between 8 and 9am every weekend.

The conversation for last Saturday on the show anchored by Efio-Ita Nyok bothered on the ambitious 700km Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway, linking not less than 7 states and billed to be completed in 8 years at an estimated N15 trillion.

One of the callers-in who simply identified as Samuel said amongst other things: ‘We don’t want that kind of elephant project’, on the suspicion that the Calabar axis of the road will not see the limelight of day. The majority of callers-in premised their scepticism for the construction of the Calabar end on previous similar projects which began from other parts of the country and were to terminate at the Cross River end but, never got to be properly terminated. They cited the East-West Road amongst others to substantiate their claims.

Other callers-in who differed requested for a simultaneous construction of the ten lanes highway from both the Lagos and Cross River ends. They tasked the state government led by Sen. Bassey Edet Otu to engage the federal government on this subject. Last week, Asuquo Ekpenyong Jnr, the lawmaker representing Cross River South at the 10th Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria lent his voice to this call for a simultaneous construction.

The minister for works, Dave Umahi, had disclosed last week that the Calabar axis falls under phase 3 of the project which is aimed to commence in the month of July. Lagos comes under phase 1 which covers 47.4km.

The Calabar-Odukpani-Itu Highway has been nothing but ill-fated as successive federal governments have failed to either initiate the construction despite budgeting for it in the country’s annual appropriation acts or fail to complete it after initiation of construction. As the wet season sets in, there are fears that this road will be impassable. This is the conviction of a socio-political group called Cross River South Consultative Forum.

The road project has inspired controversy from notable figures like former vice president and PDP presidential candidate in the 2023 general elections Waziri Atiku Abubakar. Abubakar said the Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway feeds a selfish interest, a claim Minister Umahi has consistently debunked.