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ECOWAS Concludes 3 Day Review Of Interim Report For Trade And Transport Facilitation Study Of The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Project

The ECOWAS Commission has concluded a three-day technical review of a draft Interim report for the Trade and Transport Facilitation Study of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project and advised the consultants to incorporate all recommendations and resubmit for further evaluation and subsequent validation.

The three (3)- day review workshop which brought together representatives of Member States from various sectors including Roads and Highways, Immigration, Free Movement, Customs, Trade and other international stakeholder institutions and Development partners who are interested in free movement of goods, services, persons and transport, aims to agree on a framework that will guide the movement of trade, persons, vehicles and services along the new Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway without creating unjustified impediments.

Consultants commissioned by the ECOWAS Commission to undertake the trade and transport facilitation study on the corridor presented their interim report, highlighting some current situations on the corridor that are hampering trade and transport facilitation on the Abidjan-Lagos corridor and made some recommendations on how to ensure that such is drastically reduced or entirely eliminated upon the construction of the Corridor Highway.

Acting Director of Transport for ECOWAS, Mr. Chris Appiah, said “When the Heads of States signed the agreement, they put in place a technical committee, so the people gathered here are made up of project directors from all five (5) Corridor Member Countries and colleagues from Trade, Customs, immigration, and free movement directorates of ECOWAS as well as other Development Partners to make sure that all the recommendations the consultant will be making to ensure free movement of goods, services, persons and transport are practical and align with international best practices.”

The Director of Free Movement of Persons and Migration for ECOWAS, Mr. Albert Siaw-Boateng emphasized the importance of the Corridor Highway project in ensuring free movement of persons, goods, services and trade within ECOWAS and in particular the corridor member countries. He said his directorate is undertaking a number of measures including what he described as the “Interstate Passenger” and the proposed “ECOVISA”.

“We are doing these in preparation of the completion of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway to enhance Free Movement of persons, goods, facilitate trade services and reduce harassments along the corridor.”

“The completion of the corridor highway project will help us freely implement what we call the Regional Mechanism and also by that time, we would have also completed the ECOVISA space and ensure that not only community citizens, but migrants from 3rd countries are also able to engage in businesses.” Mr. Albert Siaw-Boateng revealed.

The Executive Director of ECOWAS Brown Card, Mr. Kwasi Winfred Dodzih said the Brown Card is committed to working with the Transport and Free Movement Directorate of ECOWAS Commission to ensure that there is in existence a harmonised scheme of insurance to protect lives and properties moving along the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway.

“The Brown card is an important tool, and if we assess the rate at which claims on accidents are happening on the Abidjan-Lagos corridor, you realise that there is a serious need for an insurance scheme to be put in place to protect properties and lives of our citizens.” He opined.

Participants at the workshop drawn from both public and private institutions with direct interest in facilitating trade and transport movement along the corridor including officials from ECOWAS Commission, Ministries and Departments of the five (5) Corridor Member States, Trade Mark Africa and ECOWAS Brown Card, interrogated the interim study by the consultants, IDEA Consult and made inputs regarding the current situations of trade facilitations on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor.

The interim study on Trade and Transport Facilitation is being reviewed as a practical framework that will ensure that the best international trade facilitation practices are applied on the corridor highway upon its completion to reflect what the heads of states of member states envisioned upon signing of the agreement to construct the Abidjan-Lagos Development Highway.

The consultants are expected to collate all the questions and comments made at the review workshop and address them for resubmission. The report, will subsequently be sent back to member countries for further review, and when validated will be subjected to implementation.

The Transport Directorate of the ECOWAS Commission, is however simultaneously undertaking and finalising the detailed design of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Development Highway project itself.

“The ECOWAS Commission expects that by the time the detailed design study of the highway project will be ready, the trade and transport facilitation framework would also be ready so that they can guide the commencement of construction and operationalisation of the full components of the highway projects.” The acting Director of Transport for ECOWAS, Mr. Chris Appiah explained.

The participants also seized the opportunity to pay a courtesy call to the Autonomous Port of Lome to familiarize themselves with their port operations and updated the Port authorities on progress made regarding the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway project so far.

The five (5) Abidjan-Lagos Corridor member countries of Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire signed an agreement to construct a highway and tasked ECOWAS to coordinate the construction processes to ensure that goods, services, persons and general trade are able to move freely on the highway upon its completion, without impediments including unwarranted checkpoints and stops, when the corridor highway is constructed.

The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project aims to construct a 6-lane dual carriage highway from Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire, through Ghana, Togo, Benin to Lagos in Nigeria. The five Corridor Countries have entrusted the ECOWAS Commission as the Implementing Agency in the interim, to design, procure, mobilize financing and construct the Highway.

In the long term, a supra-national Corridor Authority, known as the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCOMA) which will be operationalized before end of 2024 will take over the project on behalf of the corridor Countries.

The Technical Studies for this regional flagship infrastructure development project is being financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), with contributions from the European Union and the ECOWAS Commission. The Corridor Countries also contributed $1.4m each to the technical studies and project preparation activities.

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