By Fiona Freddy

THE Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has disclosed that by December 2017 it would be commissioning the Seme/Krake Joint Border Post (Nigerian/Benin).

The Chairman  of the Joint Committee on Infrastructure and Industrial Development/Agriculture, Environment, Water Resources and Rural Development, Mr. Kebba  Barrow, who is also Member of the National Assembly of The Gambia, disclosed this at a visit of the ECOWAS Parliament to the border at Seme, Republic of Benin.

A statement made available to Journalists, said a meeting held in Cotonou had led to the visit where the theme: “Status of Implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Road Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme” was examined with Members of the ECOWAS Parliament and transport stakeholders in attendance.

The Seme/Krake Joint Border Post (JBP) project, which was scheduled for commissioning earlier in March 2017 is one of three Regional JBP programs of the ECOWAS Commission.

Others are Noepe JBP (Ghana/Togo) with construction works completed and the Procurement and Installation of Equipment (in progress) scheduled for operation by December, 2017.

The Joint Committee Chairman explained that there is going to be equal representation of personnel at the JBP based on activities and positions they serve.

“If you are going to have Customs and Immigration officers from Nigeria, you are going to have the same for Republic of Benin because this is a joint border and it is going to be administratively with the principles and rules set up by ECOWAS.

“ECOWAS has laid down the program for the implementation of the Joint Border project and they will lay down all the principles needed during the official launching of the JBP site because it is not officially launched. Before it is launched, all parties will be involved and the Terms of Reference (TOR) of the operationalisation of the JBP will be relayed to the various stakeholders at the post”, Mr.Barrow said.

Stakeholders include officials from the Immigration, Customs, Health, Agriculture, Intelligence Services and the Police.

The JBP site at the Seme/Krake Border had suffered setbacks that had affected progress in completion of the project since 2012.

According to Mr. Barrow, an earlier contractor had defaulted from terms that had led to the delay in the launch and running of the Joint Border Post.

“The contract has now been given to a new consultant who is currently expected to deliver equipment for installation in 60 days. We are saying in effect that by December, the Joint Border Post will be officially opened and fully up and running”, Mr. Barrow added.

The Joint Committee Members had converged at the Republic of Benin to discuss the status of the implementation of the ECOWAS Regional Road Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme in a meeting that took members of the Joint Committee, the West African Road Transport Union (WARTU) and other stakeholders including Nigerian and Beninese officials from various agencies such as Health and Environmental Services, Quarantine and Phytosanitary Services Customs Services and Customs Forwarding agencies and Immigration etc.

Main objectives of the five-day meeting were for members of the Joint Committee to be adequately briefed and informed on the progress made in the implementation of the Regional Road Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme.

Earlier at the opening ceremony of the meeting, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, Moustapha Cisse Lo, while recalling the vesting powers of the Supplementary Act on the ECOWAS Parliament on its function of overseeing activities of other ECOWAS institutions, noted that the Parliament, through its Joint Committee, would make an inquiry into the status and effectiveness of the Road Transport and Transit Facilitation Programme’s implementation.