Legal Nigeria

Coastal highway: Preliminary impact assessment approval granted -Minister

The Minister of State for Environment, Iziaq Salako, has confirmed that the Ministry of Works applied for the Environmental and Social Impact Assessment of the 700km Lagos-Calabar Coastal Highway last year December.

He also stated that the ministry received a preliminary impact assessment certification for site clearance and scoping for compensation before the commencement of the project.

Salako made this statement during a ministerial press briefing held on Friday in Abuja to commemorate the 2024 World Press Freedom Day. The briefing was monitored by our correspondent.

Nigerians had berated the minister of Works, David Umahi, for downplaying the ESIA aspect of the N15tn Lagos-Calabar coastal highway project during a stakeholders meeting with affected residents in Lagos this week.

Umahi while answering questions at the meeting if preliminary approval had been granted for the project to commence, or if there were any exceptions simply stated that everything was in order and assured that they were strictly adhering to due process for the highway project.

The ESIA report evaluates the environmental impact of a plan, policy, program, or project before deciding to proceed with the proposed action. It also outlines how compensation would be administered.

Speaking at the briefing, the minister said necessary approvals were granted for the project albeit in phases.

He stated, “Now, to answer your question. The Federal Ministry of Works applied in December last year for environmental impact and social assessment of the project and the Ministry of Environment has done its preliminary assessments, and I can confirm we have issued a preliminary impact assessment certification for site clearance and scoping of compensation. We have done that, and that is what is going on now.

“But you know that it is a very big project, a long road, so it’s not something we can do in one scoop. So we have decided to therefore approach the issuance of the certification in phases so that the project can go on and we can also be doing our part of the job.”

Salako also addressed concerns regarding loopholes in the existing law, highlighting that the ministry plans to approach the Federal Executive Council in the coming weeks to address and close these gaps.

He said, “The Federal Ministry of Environment implements the law that governs environmental assessment. And I can tell you that we take it very, very seriously. We don’t joke with it. I can tell you that in recent months, we have observed a few loopholes in the existing law, and we are already approaching the Federal Executive Council to see how to block those loopholes.”

Source: The Punch