The process for the construction of a Joint Border Post between the Republic of Liberia and the Republic of Sierra Leone has begun. Accordingly, the President of the ECOWAS Commission, Jean-Claude KassiBrou, sanctioned a Mission for the physical inspection and verification of sites (land) at the Jendema- Bo Waterside land border between Liberia and Sierra Leone, proposed by the two ECOWAS Member States for the location of the new Joint Border Post to be constructed.
The Mission held under the auspices of the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Pathe Gueye, comprised Mr. Chris Appiah, Principal Program Officer Maritime Transport and Corridors and Mr. Ashoke Maliki, Principal Program Officer Roads and Railways. The two countries were also actively represented at the highest level with the Honorable Deputy Minister of Planning & Economic Development of Sierra Leone, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Titus-Willians, the Heads of the ECOWAS National Office from both Countries. The meeting & site visits were also attended by government officials including Engineers, Architects, Land Surveyors, Customs, Immigration, National Security and other Border Agencies.
Mr. Chris Appiah, Head of Maritime & Transport Corridors, on behalf of the Commissioner for Infrastructure, Mr. Pathe Gueye, indicated that under the Regional Joint Border Post (JBPs) Program, the ECOWAS Commission is working with Member States to reconfigure border crossing facilities with an aim to decongest and clear border posts currently blocked by vehicles, traders and hauliers, sometimes for weeks, as a result of poor coordination and discordant procedures, manual controls, ever increasing number of Border Agencies as well as unconnected and two independent national systems. “The JBPs have the potential of sealing revenue leakages to Countries as a result of inefficient border control, which has been estimated by the World Bank to amount to over 15% of the value of imported goods”, he added.
Mr. Appiah also indicated that the JBP concept provides a jointly operated interconnected platform where both exit and entry controls are undertaken concurrently or in succession from a one stop location within one control zone on land belonging to the Community, such that all travelers and traffic utilizing the Post stop ONLY ONCE in each direction of travel. He intimated that “in preparedness for trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area “AfCFTA”, the Joint Border Posts have the potential to drastically reduce the number of stops in cross-border trade through increased effectiveness of cross-border controls, greater data sharing and joint operations. Other notable advantages include a reduction of trade and logistics costs, improved free movement of persons and goods; improved cross-border cooperation and security, reduction of corruption, delays, operating costs, and the recurrence of social evils such as alcoholism and promiscuity experienced by truckers and freight forwarders due to delays at borders.
On the Jendema-Bo Waterside JBP, Engr. Ashoke Maliki of the Infrastructure Department indicated that the ECOWAS Supplementary Act of 2013 on JBP Implementation provides the legal framework within which the project will be implemented. He highlighted the various components of the Project to include the Project Identification phase (member state consultations; site identification & selection, acquisition and transfer of land, payment of compensation, resettlement, etc.); the establishment of the Bilateral JBP Committee (Liberia and Sierra Leone) to guide project implementation; the Technical Design phase (functionality, Architectural and Engineering Design, Economic, Social, etc.), finance mobilization; Construction, equipment and operationalization.
He intimated that following initial project identification consultative meetings in Freetown and Monrovia, held in October, 2019, the Commission has worked with the two countries to identify Agencies and representatives forming the Bilateral JBP Committee, received completed cadastral and site plans of site identified by Liberia, (the process ongoing for Sierra Leone), prepared the Terms of Reference for the Functionality, Architectural and Engineering Design for the Jendema-Bo Waterside JBP as well as Request for Expression of Interests to procure Design Consultants.
Under the supervision of the ECOWAS Delegation, a physical inspection visit was paid to lands proposed by both Countries for the JBP. Liberia conducted the Delegation round an 18.01-acre land at its current Bo-Waterside border post for the project. In the presence of their Sierra Leonean counterparts and ECOWAS delegation, officials from Liberia showed the survey points for the land transferred to ECOWAS for the project. On their side, the Sierra Leonean delegation also conducted the team round their proposed land of approximately 20 acres for the project. They assured to complete the land acquisition documentation and transfer to ECOWAS in a few weeks. A generally agreed criteria, based on the Convention of the ECOWAS Ministers of Transport of 2018, was used as the basis of the initial assessment of the identified sites.
The ECOWAS Commission will undertake further technical evaluation of the sites and based on the engineering studies propose the best configuration and location for the approval of the two Member States.
The meeting also considered the next steps for the project which includes the finalization of the Terms of Reference for the Design Studies, publication of the Request for Expression of Interest and the design studies which is expected to be completed within 5 months of contract commencement.
As a show of committement to the Project, the heads of both Liberian and Sierra Leonean Delegations asured ECOWAS of the interest and support from the highest level of their respective governments. They promised to work with the Commission and facilitiate the work of the Consultants and works contractors as may be require, to ensure a successfuly and timely construction of the Jendema-Bo Waterside JBP.