A 12-Lane WiFi-Enabled Highway Project Divides Nigeria

Environmental groups say the superhighway is a 'land grab'
By Daniel Kay,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 6, 2016 11:01 AM CST
Feat or 'Land Grab': The Tale of Nigeria's 12-Lane Highway
People stand around a broken-down car on a major highway in Lagos, Nigeria on Friday, April 27, 2012. Lagos, Nigeria's largest city, has some of the most infamous traffic gridlock in West Africa. People often spend hours into the night stuck in traffic jams, which locals call "go-slows."    (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

(Newser) – An effort to reinvent Nigeria's overloaded transportation infrastructure is running into opposition from environmental groups, the Smithsonian reports. Conservation groups say a proposed 162-mile superhighway through Nigeria's southern Cross River State will have severe repercussions on more than half of the country's remaining rainforests, and the project will also dislocate populations of both people and animals, including around a million people and some communities of critically endangered lowland gorillas. Activists are calling out the superhighway project's developers because they're seeking a 12-mile right-of-way allowance on either side of the highway, Quartz reports; the usual right-of-way is only 50 meters. "This project will take a quarter of the land in the state," says one activist. "It is a pure land grab."

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The superhighway project is part of the Nigerian government's efforts to address the shoddy state of the country's roads, which are poorly maintained and see some of the worst gridlock in the world. The highway was approved by Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari more than a year ago, but it then emerged that an Environment Impact Assessment hadn't been done. Environmentalists managed to get construction halted while the EIA was performed. The final draft of the EIA was submitted on November 1, although activists say it's a sham. A spokesperson for the Cross River State government said: "Is it that we don’t need infrastructure? The forest you are protecting, who owns the forest? The forest is ours." He added: "But we are not insensitive. For every tree destroyed, two more will be planted." (Read more Nigeria stories.)

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