Editorial: ECOWAS Commission Facilitates Security, Free Trade And Free Movement In The Mano River Union (MRU)
THE ECOWAS AUTHORITY of Heads of State and Government, through a supplementary act, approved the establishment of a joint border post (JBP) in member states, including one between Liberia and Sierra Leone (Bo-Waterside/Jendema) in 2013. Accordingly, at the request of the ECOWAS Commission, the ECOWAS Bi-lateral Joint Border Post Technical Committee was established in 2019, comprising of the Ministry of Public Works (MPW), Liberia Land Authority, (LLA), Ministry of Internal Affairs, ( MIA), Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), 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 with the responsibilities of overseeing the construction of the project beginning with field visitations and consultation with major stakeholders, coordinating the selection and donation of construction site to ECOWAS by the local authorities, ensuring the determination of resettlement payments and packages for affected residents and community citizens and confirming that affected home owners are duly paid, soliciting uncontested commitment for residents’ relocation after receipt of their resettlement payments and soliciting full commitment and support from the Government of Liberia (GOL) through the Minister of Finance and Development Planning, etc. and present findings of these key responsibilities the Government Liberia (GOL), through the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning—the Ministry in charge of ECOWAS Affairs for approval and appropriate action, facilitating Member States (Liberia) effort to ensure the availability of the necessary sites (17.5 Acres of Land) for the development of the Joint Border Posts, providing site plan of 17.5 Acres of Land to the ECOWAS Commission, transferring ownership of the sites to ECOWAS, compensating all affected residents on the 17.5 acres of Land, demolishing the existing structures and finally turn the land over to ECOWAS, and connecting the site to the corridor network where the proposed site is not on the corridor.
THE ECOWAS BILATERAL Joint Border Technical Committee, therefore, during the week of the September 10—16, 2023, demolished over 130 structures/houses in the Bo Waterside area for the construction of a modern and elaborate Joint Border Post between Liberia and Sierra Leone, to be built by the ECOWAS Commission. In 2008, the ECOWAS Transport Ministers met and agreed on the functionality study of the development and establishment of the Joint Border in the Sub-region.
THE JOINT BORDER, when completed, is expected to facilitate free trade, support free movement of the countries’ population, goods and services especially in the border region, significantly remove, reduce or eliminate trade barriers, facilitate the creation of job mainly for border residents and youths, increase economic activities especially the local content of (acquisition of sand, rocks and locally manufactured goods, etc.), reduce time for border crossing between Liberia and Sierra Leone, provide socio-economic benefit for trade growth, improve the economic status of the border settlements, serve as mitigating mechanism for seamless checks, in support of ECOWAS protocol of free movement of persons, good, services in the region, serve as a platform for the implementation of measure 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, and facilitate the effective implementation of regional policies, backed up by strong regional institution and the birth of adequate regional infrastructure.