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Nigeria's Cross River Superhighway to Threaten Environment, Population

Nigeria’s plan to construct a six-lane “superhighway” through a rainforest in the southeast of the country has triggered a row between the government and conservation groups who claim that it will displace up to a million people.

The superhighway will be 260km long, and will link a seaport earmarked for Bakassi, on the border with Cameroon, and run north to the border with Chad. The corridor, which will also have fibre link, will involve clearing a swath of jungle 20km wide.

The project has been condemned by local activists and 15 NGOs, including the World Wildlife Fund, the World Conservation Society and Birdlife International. In September, Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari was presented with petition containing 230,000 signatures from Cross River communities and elsewhere.

The protesters claim that the road will deprive 180 communities of their land, and wipe out a large area of Nigeria’s few remaining rainforests, the habitat of gorillas, chimpanzees, forest elephants and pangolins.

Jonathan Mahady

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