By Roland Ekama
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Taskforce on Trade Liberalisation Scheme (ETLS) has raised alarm over the multiplicity of check-points along the Francophone Benin Republic and Anglophone Nigeria international highway.
ECOWAS said the slow movement of cargoes along the corridor due to the bottlenecks caused by the checkpoints are some of the impediments to trade facilitation.
In a statement on Thursday in Lagos, ECOWAS’ Executive Secretary, Mr. Justin Bayill, said the task force found out that persistent collection of illegal fees at the borders and along the corridors has been impeding international trade and integration at the border.
“Notably at Malanville, Hillacondji, Krake, Benin axis and at Seme, Nigeria side, the unwholesome trend have continued unabated with its dire consequences on the regional economy.
“There are bilateral agreements supporting such social interactions but it is very disturbing that unprogressive elements have constituted themselves as clog in the wheel of economic advancement of the area,’’ he said.
The Executive Secretary disclosed that civilians manning check points/roadblocks routinely hold drivers of trucks and cars to ransom while extortions at the borders continue to hinder trade.
He said it would encourage efforts by leaders of the member states to ensure the effective implementation of ECOWAS community policies and protocols also known as peer review mechanism to engender healthy competition.
“The taskforce will work through the ECOWAS Heads of States to bring to a stop the human excesses that have been thwarting trade conventions in the sub-region.”
He also affirmed that the taskforce would work toward strengthening political will within ECOWAS to facilitate trade, create border awareness and capacity building of ECOWAS citizens on the provisions of existing protocols and policies.