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West Africa: 57 Checkpoints Along Badagry-Seme Expressway Frustrating Intra-African Trade – ECOWAS

The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission, over the weekend, said over 57 checkpoints on the Badagry-Seme expressway of the Lagos- Abidjan corridor are frustrating intra-African trade.

The executive secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Hon. Emmanuel Jime, however, noted that more than 400 trade obstacles have been reported along the trade corridor.

Speaking at the sensitisation workshop in collaboration with ECOWAS Commission on awareness creation for professional organisations and stakeholders on elimination of Non-tariff barriers using ECOWAS Trade Obstacle Alert Mechanism (TOAM), organised by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), over the weekend, the principal trade advisor, ECOWAS Commission, Justin Bayili, said delays occasioned by the checkpoints was militating against trade facilitation.

Bayili stated that there is a need to create good conditions for trade facilitation in the region.

“Two months ago, we took a trip from Mile 2 to Badagry and experienced 57 checkpoints, this delayed goods and thus made the goods costly for the business community,” he said.

Speaking earlier, the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), noted that trade barriers not only disrupt seamless flow of goods but also pose a direct threat to regional integration endeavours.

The executive secretary of the council, Hon. Emmanuel Jime, said that various studies conducted along the borders of West African nations, had persistently highlighted the bottlenecks faced by traders, particularly in border crossings and Customs clearance processes.

Jime observed that the trade barriers, which were so many, comprised lengthy clearing terms, transit checkpoints with unwarranted delays, harassment, exorbitant illegal fees, and demands for bribes had far-reaching consequences.

The executive secretary, however, explained that more than 49 percent of them had been effectively addressed by national focal point representatives, supported by advisory services from the International Trade Centre (ITC).

He said: “In addition, the NSC’s Complaints Unit (CU) stands as a testament to our tireless efforts in resolving shipping-related issues. We understand that disputes and challenges can occur during trade transactions. Hence, we have dedicated resources and expertise to swiftly address these issues, ensuring that businesses can continue operations with minimal disruptions.

“Our commitment to fostering collaboration and harmonisation among various stakeholders in the trade ecosystem is unwavering. We actively engage with other agencies, both within Nigeria and across West Africa, to align our efforts in promoting trade facilitation.

“NSC is at the forefront of advocating for the digitization of port processes. We recognise that the digital transformation of port operations is instrumental in streamlining trade, reducing bureaucracy, and enhancing transparency. Through advocacy and active, and consistently embarked on initiatives aimed at enhancing trade efficiency and reducing barriers to participation in the modernization of port systems, we aim to usher in an era of more efficient and responsive trade infrastructure.

“Our collective focus today revolves around a topic that is not only crucial but timely, given our region’s aspirations for economic growth and regional integration,” the NSC Boss explained further.Jime said that the fully operational status of TOAM in all 15 ECOWAS member states underscores its potential to drive transformative change and enhance regional trade.”

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