President Muhammadu Buhari Tuesday said Seme-Krake joint border project will strengthen regional integration through free movement of persons and goods in the West Africa sub region.
The Nigerian President who was speaking at the official handing over ceremony of the joint border post, at Seme , said the project is symbol of integration that brings together the peoples of Nigeria and Benin, with assurances that Nigeria will work closely with Benin Republic to ensure the success of the initiative
The European Union EU who are the major sponsors of the project, have similar initiative at Malanville, border town between Benin and Niger, as well as at Neope-Akanu on the Ghana- Togo borders
President Buhari, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Economic Commission of West African States, ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government, applauded the EU for supporting two other joint borders at Malanville (between Benin/Niger) and Noepe-Akanu (between Ghana/Togo).
“ Indeed, the Seme-Krake joint border is one of the busiest boundary lines not only in West Africa but the whole continent, daily recording huge movement of persons, goods and services.
”Permit me therefore to congratulate my brother, President Patrice Talon of the Republic of Benin on the successful completion of this magnificent project.
”As we all know, Nigeria and Benin share many things in common. Hence, the establishment of the Joint Border Post will certainly promote our brotherliness and emphasize our common interest, ” he said.
Speaking on the benefits of the joint border post, which sits on 17 hectares of land, the President noted that it would enhance trade facilitation by combining border clearance activities in a single location, increase cooperation and coordination of controls, in addition to fostering data and intelligence sharing between Nigeria and Benin Republic.
According to him, “ The Border Post is strategically important and lies on the Lagos-Cotonou-Lome-Accra-Abidjan corridor, which accounts for about 70% of the entire transit traffic in the sub-region.
”The corridor is also part of the Trans-African Highway network. This Joint Border Post with modern enabling facilities is a flagship project in ECOWAS and a good example of regional public assets with a spill-over range of benefits,’’ he said.
The Nigerian leader also expressed optimism that the facilities at the border post will improve the working conditions of border officials and make them more efficient and effective in carrying out their duties.
He, therefore, urged border officials of both countries to ensure that their operations are carried out within the guiding principles of ECOWAS.
”I am aware that a Joint Committee with membership from Nigeria and Benin has been established for the coordination and management of this facility. I would like to call on the members of the committee to note the complex task ahead of them.
”The committee must ensure that border officials are sensitized on the mode of operation of the Joint Border Post concept which is a big departure from the traditional mode of operation. I call on the ECOWAS Commission to continue to provide the needed support to this Committee, ”he said.
Appreciating the financial commitment of the European Union Commission to the project and the contributions of the ECOWAS Commission towards its successful completion, President Buhari noted that inadequate transport infrastructure and inefficient services were some of the major bottlenecks to the attainment of socio-economic development and integration in the region.
”ECOWAS is a region where ports, roads, railways and airports still remain a constraint despite significant recent progress made.
”Nigeria has embarked on major investment programmes covering these sectors to improve the competitiveness of our economies and accelerate growth. We are therefore delighted to welcome such initiatives aimed at boosting the economic integration of our member States in West Africa,’’ he said.
Tony Ailemen, Abuja
, Nigeria/ Benin joint border