Contract for the selection of a firm to review the detailed engineering design of a Joint Border Post between Cameroun and Nigeria, one of the confidence-building measures between both countries in the wake of the World Court judgment over the Bakassi peninsula, will be awarded in July 2011. The process for the selection of the firm was one of the subjects that dominated a three-day joint meeting of the technical and steering committees of the Nigeria-Cameroun multinational highway transport facilitation programme, which ended on Friday, 28th January 2011 in Douala, Cameroun.
Both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the facilitation programme on 29th March 2009 at a ceremony in Tunis, headquarters of the African Development Bank that provided for the establishment of two committees: a 21-member Joint Technical Committee and a 14-member Project Steering Committee, each responsible for various aspects of the project.
Cameroun, Nigeria, ECOWAS and its equivalents in Central Africa, ECCAS and CEMAC, are represented in both committees with donors only represented in the steering committee. ECOWAS is the overall coordinator for the project.
The construction of the post, the rehabilitation and construction of the Bamenda-Mamfe-Abakaliki-Enugu road corridor linking both countries, including related facilitation infrastructure, are two of the three key projects under the programme.
The programme was launched on 17th June 2010 at Mfum and Ekok in Cameroun and Nigeria respectively at a ceremony attended by the Ministers of Works of both countries and other stakeholders, including officials of ECOWAS, ECCAS and CEMAC
Donors and both countries are contributing about 455 million US dollars in loans and grants to finance the development and reinforcement of this road corridor.
ECOWAS will contribute 1.32 million US dollars as counterpart funding while the African Development Bank, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the International Development Association and both countries are contributing the rest.
ECOWAS received a grant of 16.16 million US dollars from the ADB to finance studies, designs, supervision and coordination of the programme.
The third component of the programme is the construction of a 23- metre long border bridge over the Cross River to be funded equally by both countries and whose contract is scheduled to be awarded in January 2012.
The meeting, the third by the joint technical committee and the first by the steering committee, agreed to take further measures to accelerate the implementation of the three projects and to meet in March 2011 in Nigeria within the context of their mandate to conduct regular review of the process in order to address perceived challenges.
At the opening of the meeting on 26th January 2011, the ECOWAS Director of Transport and Telecommunications, Mr. David Kamara, hailed the projects as historic as they would not only boost trade and strengthen cooperation between Cameroun and Nigeria but also between West and Central Africa, the first of such projects in Africa.
He said the projects would not only boost the logistic chain of transport between both countries but were also consistent with the objectives of NEPAD within the context of regional integration and cooperation.
“The programme would serve as a platform for policy dialogue on transport and trade facilitation, including customs modernization reforms, improved infrastructure and increased cross-border efficiency”, Mr. Kamara said.
The Directorate of Transport and Telecommunications of the ECOWAS Commission has direct responsibility for the general coordination of the programme and monitoring of the transport facilitation component for the Commission.
In similar comments at the opening, the head of the Nigerian delegation, Mr. Sylvester Jijingi, who represented the Director of Highways of Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Works, described the project as an important step in the process of building confidence between both countries.
His counterpart from Cameroun, Mr. Patrice Ngiema, said that the process for the construction of the bridge was lagging behind and urged members of the committees to take measures to address the challenges that contributed to the situation.