By: Hannah Dadzie
Minister of Roads and Highways, Kwasi Amoako-Atta, has urged West Africa leaders to remain united in developing the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Project.
This he said will help deepen relations, enhance regional trade and create wealth, which will lessen dependency on other countries.
He said this at the 18th Steering Committee Meeting for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Programme in Cote D’Ivoire.
Mr. Amoako-Atta, said Ghana has started the acquisition Right of Way process with stakeholders’ engagements and part of the communities along the corridor. He confirmed that stakeholders have unanimously embraced the project idea.
Mr. Amoako-Atta, indicated that the Ministry has taken steps to ensure that all environmental, social and safety issues are thoroughly addressed.
“I am proud that the project preparation phase is almost at a close as we expect the detailed design to be completed at the second quarter of this very year, 2023.We have engaged with our traditional rulers, technical directors, local government officials, opinion leaders and political appointees in the communities along the entire corridor. We are therefore eagerly awaiting commencement of this highway project. We have programmed to complete all the needed stakeholder engagement towards the acquisition of the Right of Way processes by the end of the second quarter of this year, 2023. In order to push forward this project, we should remain stronger because we are doing this for the benefit of our people that constitute the five” Mr Amoako-Atta noted.
The 18th Steering Committee Meeting was attended by Ministers in charge of Road Infrastructure and Works of the Corridor Member States from Ghana, Cote D’Ivoire, Togo, and Nigeria. The Minister of Benin was absent.
Mr. Amoako-Atta describes the absence of Benin as unfortunate as the five countries are bound to work together for the common good.
He hopes nothing will derail the efforts made so far, as experienced under COVID-19, to enable them to meet the construction deadline of the first quarter of next year.
“I wish to commend the ECOWAS Commissioner and his team for the progress made on this project. We must affirm the need to concretize definite decisions for the financing models for this project though some development partners, bilateral agencies and private investors have already expressed their interest. We are grateful to the African Development Bank for promoting this project even at international investment to potential investors. The absence of our Benin Minister and the expert team for the second time running is very disturbing and we need to address how to bring them back on board. We started together and we must remain together until we see the final realization of this project” Ghana’s Minister of Roads and Highways said.
Nigeria’s Minister for Works and Housing and Chairman, Steering Committee on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Programme, Babatunde Raji Fashola, said although there have been challenges in the project implementation, the committee hopes there will be a successful outcome.
“It has not been an easy project and for very obvious reasons, it was not meant to be easy so for those who see delays, I see them as stepping blocks to success. Let me first dimension some of the challenges for those who might not understand. This is just a road after all, a road that connects five different countries. In those five countries, we are independent, sovereignty. Inside each country, there’s diversity, religion and ethnicity and you know what makes it more interesting, the democracies with different political calendars and how you build consensus and sustain it. And as my brother from Ghana has said, we will not leave anyone behind. That is the essence of democracy, different political cycles, the hardest part of the work has been done” Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing said.
He urged all development partners to continue to work towards the realization of the project which will transform trade and commerce in the sub-region.
“This project is about people and it must comply with people before it serves them. And so our team has done quite some work in ensuring that those compliance issues have been met. Of course, as the chair of the committee of ministers in my country, we have raised some local funding for our side of the project, we have stepped into our leadership role and we will justify it all through this project and in other projects across the sub-region and across the continent” Babatunde Raji Fashola implored.
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