Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has asked the four other Heads of State who are party to the implementation of the Abidjan-Lagos Highway Corridor Project to ensure that it commences next year.
The construction of the homogenous highway corridor, linking Benin, Togo, Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire and Nigeria, was formally approved by Heads of State of ECOWAS member countries at the 42nd Ordinary Summit in February 2013.
However, after more than a decade, the project is yet to commence. The Vice President, in a speech read on his behalf by Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Senior Advisor to the President, at the opening of the 19th Steering Committee Meeting on the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Project, in Accra, on Friday, said member countries “must do whatever it takes for the project to commence in 2024” as proposed.
He explained that the commencement of the project would give real meaning to continental free trade. The meeting was to review the project’s implementation progress and discuss bottlenecks towards addressing all issues before the project commences.
The meeting was attended by Ministers in charge of roads and/or infrastructure of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor member countries of Benin, Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Nigeria, and Togo.
The Abidjan-Lagos Corridor is a six-lane (three-lane dual carriageway) covering a total distance of 1,028km and connects some of the largest and economically dynamic cities in Africa namely Lagos, Accra, Cotonou, Lomé, and Abidjan.
It also covers a substantial proportion of West Africa and links very vibrant seaports, serving all the landlocked countries in the region- Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger. Ghana accounts for the longest section (576km) of the corridor, including a proposed 2.7km under tunnel from Ga East in the Greater Accra Region to Berekusu in the Eastern Region.
The project, when completed, would generate economic and social activities, promote cross-border trade, and integrate economies within the ECOWAS community. It is being implemented by the ECOWAS Commission at an estimated cost of $15 billion.
Dr Bawumia said the Government of Ghana placed a high premium on the development of roads in the country as they were key to its socioeconomic development.
“It is for this reason that for the past seven years, the Government, under the leadership of Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, has invested a lot in road construction and the results are visible throughout the country,” he said.
The Vice President said, the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Project was, therefore, on the priority list of the Government, and was keen on its commencement.
“This road is key in realising the full benefits of the African Continental Free Trade Area. The integration of the rail infrastructure and industrial zones along the corridor will help the sub-region achieve the full potential of this highway project,” he added.
Dr Bawumia assured all of the Government’s commitment to the successful implementation of the project. Mr Babatunde Fashola SAN, the Steering Committee Chairman of the Project, explained that the change in political leadership over the years had hindered the delivery of the project.
Despite this and other challenges, he said, progress had been made and very soon the project would start.
“All the people I met when I took over as chairman in 2016 have all changed. Our Commissioner for Infrastructure has changed, and ministers have changed. Some of the heads of state who started this project have also changed. Do you know why? Democracy is thriving in our region, people are participating in the Government and they are making choices, and those choices have consequences.
“And some of the consequences are that political actors will change but, our commitment to this project does not change. We will deliver it,” he indicated. Mr Kwasi Amoako-Attah, Minister of Roads and Highways, indicated that detailed engineering studies were almost complete, adding that “we are preparing the ground for the long-awaited implementation phase.”
Ghana, he said, had embarked on sensitisation of communities along the proposed alignment for the highway project, to ensure a smooth take-off in 2024 as proposed.
He, therefore, emphasised the need for the committee to quickly assess the cost of compensation, and make funds available to secure the Right of Way as quickly as possible.
Mr Mike Sawalou, Director, Infrastructure and Urban Development at the African Development Bank, one of the development partners, assured that it was fully committed to making the project a reality.