The Federal Government has been urged to review cargo transit and shipment policies at the Seme-Krake border to boost ECOWAS trade along Lagos – Abidjan corridor beyond the fourth position it currently holds in Africa.
The Nigerian Customs Service alongside other stakeholders at the Joint Border Post in Lagos made this appeal on Friday when the Minister of State for Transportation, Prince Ademola Adegoroye inspected and commissioned some new facilities provided by the Federal Ministry of Transportation for the ease of commuters at the border station.
Speaking at the event, the Customs Area Comptroller (CAC), Seme-Krake Border Command, Dera Nnadi, in his welcome address said that the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor (ALCO) which connects Lagos-Cotonou-Lomé-Accra-Abidjan has a population of over 350million, accounts for about 70 per cent of the transit traffic, yet has only 10% trade share in the continent.
The CAC who doubles as the Chairman of the Joint Border Management opined that the enforcement of trade protocols in the border area will boost trade within the region and increase ECOWAS ranking in Africa.
He called on Nigeria to take advantage of trade potentials emanating from the region especially the opportunities African Free Trade Continental Agreement offers.
“ECOWAS ranks 4th in Africa and the trade between us is only 10% compared to other countries and sub region. South African Development Community (SADC) for instance with only 69.2million people is the first when it comes to trading at 32%, the East African Common market is next, at 20%, even the countries of the Saharan region where you have deserts, trade more among themselves at 15%. It is worrisome that with our neighbors here, our trade is only 10%. It is even more worrisome considering that we will soon start the African Continental Free Trade Area.”
He pleaded with the Minister to look into the reasons for the bottlenecks in trade and escalate to the Federal Government.
The Minister’s attention was also drawn an ongoing double taxation regime on export transiting from Nigeria through the Benin border into other African countries, a situation which freight forwarders insist negates ECOWAS treaties and have largely hampered trade.
Responding, the Minister stated that issues on trade extend to multiple MDA’s but promised to take up the issues at the Federal Executive Council in hope of that the bottlenecks to trade will be reviewed to improve trade relations with members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).
Speaking also on the facilities provided by the Ministry of Transportation at the border, he stated, “…this Joint Border Post with modern enabling facilities is a flagship project in ECOWAS and a good example of regional public assets with a spill-over range of benefits.
“However, the Federal Government of Nigeria in its continuous efforts and commitment to providing the facilities needed for conducive working environment and to boost the economic integration of our member States in West Africa and as part of the social responsibility in the management of the Joint Border Post between Nigeria and Republic of Benin is providing additional facilities which our Ministry executed on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”
TNMN reports that the Minister inspected, commissioned and handed over 20 Toilet units, 3 roofed Walkways for intended arriving and departing passengers from Nigeria and Republic of Benin respectively.
Others include 2 Solar Powered Borehole; a Water Treatment Plant; Provision of Elevated Glass Reinforced Plastic Tank; Water Reticulation; and construction of Underground Concrete Water Storage valued over N300m.