A ministerial meeting to discuss the construction of a joint border post (JBP) at Elubo in Ghana and Noe in Cote d’Ivoire to enhance the free movement of people, vehicles and goods between the two countries has been held in the two border towns.
Under the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Transport and Transit Programme, key border posts have been identified to be transformed into JBPs for joint and simultaneous controls.
The project is intended to improve sub-regional trade and integration in West Africa.
The border posts at Elubo in Ghana and Noe in Cote d’Ivoire have been selected to be transformed into a JBP.
A JBP is a post where both exit and entry controls are undertaken jointly or concurrently or in succession from a one-stop location within one control zone on land belonging to the ECOWAS Community, such that all traffic utilising the post stops only once (if necessary) in each direction of travel.
The ECOWAS Commission has decided to adopt a home-grown solution to funding the JBP at Elubo/Noe through annual allocations from its budget in tranches as a special infrastructure fund until the full cost of the project, which is estimated at US$20 million, is covered.
The construction of the JBP is one of the initiatives being pursued by the ECOWAS Commission, following the directives of the 41st Ordinary Session of ECOWAS Heads of State and Government in Yamoussoukro in June 2012 which tasked the commission to intensify its efforts towards the development of regional infrastructure as a catalyst for regional economic integration.
Already, construction work has been completed on two of the JBPs at Noepe between Ghana and Togo and Mallanville, out of seven initiated design studies, with the support of the European Union (EU).
The Minister of Roads and Highways, Alhaji Inusah Fuseini, led Ghana's team, while the Ivorian side was headed by Mr Abdoulaye Toure, who represented Cote d'Ivoire's Minister of Transport, to the two border town meetings.
The separate discussions were preceded by the opening of a conference on the subject matter for participants from the two countries, believed to be the most vibrant member countries within ECOWAS in terms of trade and economic development, at the Raybow Hotel in Takoradi in the Western Region.
Addressing the four-day conference, Alhaji Fuseini explained that the meeting formed part of the ECOWAS Commission's agenda to put in place a programme that would facilitate and support intra-community trade and cross-border movements.
He said the key objective was a reduction in transport costs and the promotion of trade among member states, adding that JBPs were being introduced in many parts of Africa to address one of the main delaying factors on major transport corridors.
The minister said a recent survey by the Abidjan-Lagos corridor organisation revealed that the border crossing time at Elubo still remained high, at least 32 hours as of 2014, compared to 38 hours in 2013.
"Delay of more than one day at border posts should trigger a need for intervention,” he said.
"Accordingly, we in Ghana have taken a number of steps which will forge the bonds of collaboration with Cote d'Ivoire to facilitate and augment the efforts of the commission to ensure the successful implementation of the JBP," he said.
The Commissioner for Infrastructure of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr Ebrima Njie, said over the years, ECOWAS, in collaboration with member states, had been implementing many programmes and projects towards enhancing intra-community trade and the free movement of people.
He explained that the construction of the JBPs was one of the key components of the regional transport and transit facilitation programme, adding that the project would be a split type, with officials from both states occupying both facilities to undertake controls simultaneously.