The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission is due to construct a modern and elaborate Joint Border Post between Liberia and neighbouring Sierra Leone.
According to a press release, the ECOWAS Bilateral Joint Border Technical Committee during the week of 10 September to 16 September 2023 demolished over 130 structures/houses in the Bo Water Side area for the project.
The joint border post (JBP) when completed is expected to facilitate free trade, and support the free movement of the countries’ population, goods, and services, especially in the border region.
It will remove, reduce, or eliminate trade barriers, facilitate the creation of jobs, mainly for border residents and youths, and increase economic activities, especially the local content (acquisition of sand, rocks, and locally manufactured goods), among others.
The JBP will reduce the time for border crossing between countries, give socio-economic benefits for trade growth, and improve the economic status of the border settlements.
The Joint border post serves as a mitigating mechanism for seamless checks, which supports the ECOWAS protocol for the Free Movement of persons, goods, and services in the region.
The release detailed that the JBP has the advantage of serving as a platform for the implementation of measures aimed at simplifying customs procedures while increasing cooperation and coordination of border controls and the fight against harassment, extortion, and bad trade practices along the corridor.
The JBP will facilitate the effective implementation of regional policies, backed up by strong regional institutions and the birth of adequate regional infrastructure.
The release disclosed that in 2008, the ECOWAS Transport Ministers met and agreed on the functionality study of the development and establishment of the Joint Border in the region.
The ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government thru a Supplementary Act/SA/SA 1/10/13 approved the establishment of the Joint Border post in Member States including one between Liberia and Sierra Leone at Bo-waterside/Jendema in 2013.
At the request of the ECOWAS Commission, the ECOWAS Bi-lateral Joint Border Post Technical Committee was established in 2019.
It comprises the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), the Liberia Land Authority, (LLA), the Ministry of Internal Affairs, ( MIA), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), the ECOWAS Special Representative Office, the Central Bank of Liberia (CBL), Ministry of Transport (MoT), Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), Ministry of Justice (MoJ), Liberia Revenue Authority (LRA) and chair by the ECOWAS National Office.
The committee was charged primarily to oversee the construction of the project beginning with field visitations and consultation with major stakeholders.
It is also charged to coordinate the selection and donation of construction sites to ECOWAS by the local authorities; and to ensure the determination of resettlement payments and packages for affected residents and community citizens and confirm that affected homeowners are duly paid.
The committee is charged to solicit uncontested commitment for residents’ relocation after receipt of their resettlement payments and; and to solicit full commitment and support from the Government of Liberia thru the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, and present findings of these key responsibilities for approval and appropriate action.
The committee is charged with facilitating Member States’ efforts to ensure the availability of the necessary sites (17.5 Acres of Land) for the development of the Joint Border Posts, among others.
In 2020, the Joint Border Committee along with local County Authorities identified and selected the 17.5 acres of land containing 135 structures.
The land was surveyed and the cadastral plan (site plan) was forwarded to the ECOWAS Commission as requested in 2021.
The committee also held multiple consultative meetings with local authorities and identified the actual and legal homeowners for the consideration of RAP package benefits.
The Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning fulfilled its commitment to ECOWAS and paid 100 percent RAP benefits to all affected residents.
The Pearl Consulting Engineering Firm was hired by ECOWAS through a competitive process, and they have begun the design engineering stage of the project.
Ten border youths each from Liberia and Sierra Leone were hired and trained to serve as survey and traffic assistants for Phase One of the design stage.
The commencement of phase two of the engineering design stage is to begin by the end of September 2023.
The Joint Border Technical Committee has thanked ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia Josephine Nkrumah and Mr. Cletus T. Noah, representing Liberia’s Minister of Finance and all relevant stakeholders for their active participation in the demolition exercises. Press release-edited by Winston Parley