The ECOWAS Bilateral Joint Border Technical Committee during the week of the 10th to the 16thof September 2023 demolished over 130 structures/houses in the Bo Water Side area for the construction of a modern and elaborate Joint Border Post to be built by the ECOWAS Commission between Liberia and Sierra Leone.
In 2008, the ECOWAS Transport Ministers met and agreed on the functionality study of the development and establishment of the Joint Border in the Region.
As a consequence, the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government thru a Supplementary Act/SA/SA 1/10/13 approved the establishment of a Joint Border post 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 following responsibilities including, oversee the construction of the project beginning with field visitations and consultation with major stakeholders, coordinate the selection and donation of construction site to ECOWAS by the local authorities, ensure the determination of resettlement payments and packages for affected residents and community citizens and confirm that affected home owners are duly paid and solicit uncontested commitment for residents’ relocation after receipt of their resettlement payments and solicit full commitment and support from the Government of Liberia thru the Minister of Finance and Development Planning.
Others are, present findings of these key responsibilities the Government Liberia thru the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning -the Ministry in Charge of ECOWAS Affairs for approval and appropriate action, facilitate 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, provide site plan of 17.5 Acres of Land to the ECOWAS Commission, transfer ownership of the sites to ECOWAS, compensate all affected Residents on the 17.5 acres of Land, demolish the existing structures and finally turn the land over to ECOWAS and connect the site to the corridor network where the proposed site is not on the corridor.
Additionally, in 2020, the Joint Border Committee along with local County Authorities identified and selected the 17.5 acres of Land containing 135 structures. The land was surveyed and cadastral plan (site plan) forwarded to the ECOWAS Commission as requested in 2021.
The committee also held multiple consultative meetings with local authorities and identified the actual and legal home owners for the consideration of RAP package benefits. The Government of Liberia thru the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning fulfilled its commitment to ECOWAS and paid 100 percent RAP benefits to all affected residents.
Consequently, the joint border when completed is expected to facilitates free trade, facilities and supports free movement of the countries’ population, goods and services especially in the border region, significantly removes, reduces or eliminates trade barriers, facilitates the creation of job mainly for border residents and youthsand increases economic activities especially the local content of (acquisition of sand, rocks and locally manufactured goods.
Other expected achievements include, reduces time for border crossing between countries, socio-economic benefit for trade growth, improved economic status of the border settlements, the Joint border post serves as mitigating mechanism for seamless checks, which supports ECOWAS protocol of Free Movement of persons, good, services in the region, the JBP have the advantage of serving 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.
The JBP will facilitate the effective implementation of regional policies, backed up by strong regional institution and the birth of adequate regional infrastructure
The Pearl Consulting Engineering Firm was hired by ECOWAS through a competitive process and they have begun the design engineering stage of the project.
Ten (10) border youths each from Liberia and Sierra Leone were hired and trained to serve as survey and traffic assistants for Phase I of the Design stage.
Commencement of phase II of engineering design stage to begin by end of September 2023.
The Joint Border Technical Committee wishes to thank H. E. Josephine Nkrumah ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia and Mr. Cletus T. Noah, representing the Honorable Minister of Finance and Development Planning and all relevant stakeholders for their active participation in the demolition exercises.