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ECOWAS, under the Regional Joint Border Post Development program is collaborating with the Mano River Union (MRU) Secretariat and three  (3) Member States namely Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia and Guinea, to implement the facilitation components of the MRU Multinational Highway and Transport Facilitation Program comprising the construction of a Joint Border Post at Prollo and bridge over the Cavalla border river between Liberia and Cote d’Ivoire as well as a Joint Border Post (JBP) between Guinea and Cote d’Ivoire at the Gbapleu border. The projects are being funded with grants from the African Development Bank (AfDB), and counterpart funding from the ECOWAS Commission for the project management and coordination.

In this regard, the Commission is holding technical validation workshops from 25th to 30th November 2022 to consider draft Engineering Design Reports and Architectural Drawings for the Border Bridge over the Cavalla River and the two JBPs. The Project Manager, Eng. Ashoke Maliki Head of Division, Roads and Railways of the ECOWAS Commission, recalled that in line with the Terms of Reference of the Design Study, the documents to be reviewed and validated will consist of reports on traffic projections, geotechnical studies, and technical drawings (architectural, civil, and structural, electro-mechanical) and other related design elements. The workshop also considered the environmental and social impact assessment reports to ensure that the projects respond to the environment and the requirements of adjoining communities, as well as address safeguards of the African Development Bank for such projects, especially as it relates to providing for gender and vulnerable groups.

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In his welcome address, the Ag. Director of Transport, Mr. Chris Appiah, on behalf of the ECOWAS Commission for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization, Mr. Sediko Douka, highlighted the importance of the three projects to achieving the regional integration agenda of ECOWAS. He said “the Border Bridge and two JBPs at the border of Cote d’Ivoire with Liberia and Guinea, are projects which bring a physical manifestation to the mantra of the new ECOWAS Vision 2050, – “ECOWAS of Peoples, Peace and Prosperity for all”. The projects also aim to support the realization of the 4×4 Strategy of the current Management of the Commission, specifically objective 2 on “Deeper Regional Integration” and Objective 4 “Inclusive and Sustainable Development” on the construction of the JBPs and improvement of road corridors. The projects are key contributions to improve the Trans-Coastal Corridor which commences from Praia in Cabo Verde through Dakar to Lagos in Nigeria. Eventually, the plan is to connect to Central Africa and East Africa to end at the Port of Mombasa in Kenya. He ended by urging Member State experts to put on their regional integration and free movement caps as they consider the reports.

The Directors representing the Public Works Ministries of Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia also pledged the continued support of countries to the completion of the projects. They assured ECOWAS of their support to expedite the completion of the designs in order for the actual construction to begin, since the continued delay of the transport facilitation components is impacting on their respective portfolios with the African Development Bank. The Officer-In-Charge of Regional Integration projects of the Mano River Union Secretariat pledged their support to ECOWAS fast-track the construction of the projects.

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Considering the multifaceted nature of these regional integration projects, the meeting was also attended by the Director of Free Movement of Persons and Migration of ECOWAS Commission, Program Officers from Information Technology Services, Procurement, and the ECOWAS Gender Development Centre based in Dakar, Senegal. The projects will align with other community initiatives such as the ECOWAS Cross Border Cooperation Program which seeks to improve on the living standards of citizens of towns and villages surrounding land borders.

The technical validation workshop will end on 30th November, 2022 with the final validated engineering and architectural designs, environmental-social impact interventions, and set of tender documents to be used to recruit the works contractor for the construction of the bridge over the Cavalla border river and the two Joint Border Posts at Prollo and Gbapleu between Cote d’Ivoire and Liberia and Guinea respectively, which is expected to commence in the third quarter of 2023.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).