Nigerian Government Faces Criticism Over Costly Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway Project

The Nigerian government's plan to build a 700-km coastal highway from Lagos to Calabar faces scrutiny over high costs, environmental impact, and rising sea levels. Critics urge prioritizing existing infrastructure over new projects.

Nasiru Eneji Abdulrasheed
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Nigerian Government Faces Criticism Over Costly Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway Project

Nigerian Government Faces Criticism Over Costly Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway Project

The Nigerian government's plan to construct a 700-kilometer coastal highway from Lagos to Calabar has come under scrutiny due to concerns over the project's high costs, environmental impact, and the potential effects of rising sea levels caused by global warming.

The highway, which is estimated to cost a staggering N15.356 trillion ($13 billion), has been met with opposition from various stakeholders, including politicians and affected communities.

Minister of Works David Umahi has defended the project, stating that it will be completed within eight years using an Engineering, Procurement, Construction plus Finance (EPC+F) model, with funding committed by the federal government. Umahi believes the coastal highway will boost infrastructure, reduce inflation, attract foreign direct investment, and promote tourism, commerce, water transportation, and real estate development along the coastal regions.

However, the project's critics argue that the government should prioritize the completion and repair of existing infrastructure before initiating new ventures. Peter Obi, the former Labour Party presidential candidate, has expressed deep concerns about the timing and prioritization of the highway project. "The current federal budget and funding sources may not be sufficient to complete all the critical road projects across the country," Obi stated, urging the government to focus on the urgent needs of the people in the development formula.

Residents of affected communities in Lagos State, such as Orile Ilasan and Iroko-Awe in Elegushi Royal Estate, have also raised objections to the project's potential impact on their properties. After a stakeholder meeting with Minister Umahi, it was resolved that the road expansion would not exceed 50 meters and that the original alignment behind the designated area would be utilized as the first option to minimize loss for affected residents.

Why this matters: The Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway project highlights the challenges faced by the Nigerian government in balancing infrastructure development with fiscal responsibility and environmental sustainability. The project's high costs and potential impact on communities and the environment have raised questions about the government's priorities and decision-making process.

As the debate surrounding the coastal highway project continues, the Nigerian government faces pressure to address the concerns raised by politicians, affected communities, and environmental advocates. Minister Umahi has emphasized that only those with permanent structures will be compensated during the demolition process, while shanty dwellers and caravan owners along the shorelines will not receive compensation. The government's ability to navigate these challenges and deliver on its infrastructure promises will be closely watched in the coming years.

Key Takeaways

  • Nigerian govt plans 700km Lagos-Calabar coastal highway at $13B cost, drawing criticism.
  • Govt defends the project, and claims it will boost infrastructure, tourism, and investment.
  • Critics argue govt should prioritize existing infrastructure over new projects.
  • Affected communities raise concerns over property impact, govt agrees to minimize losses.
  • The project highlights challenges in balancing development, fiscal responsibility, and sustainability.