ECOWAS Road Sector Ministers Endorse Regional Strategy on Timely Maintenance Of Roads

Exp Mtg
Exp Mtg

The ECOWAS Commission, convened a meeting of Road Sector Ministers on 28th April 2022, at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Niamey, in the Republic of Niger. The meeting considered recommendations by Experts in Road Maintenance Financing who earlier met on 26th and 27th April 2023 to review a draft Final ECOWAS Regional Road Maintenance Financing Strategy, a draft Action Plan and M&E framework as well as a draft Regional Directive for Road Maintenance financing in the ECOWAS Region.

The Strategy was prepared as part of the Regional Transport Governance Project which seeks to improve the sustainability and efficiency of the transportation among Member States of ECOWAS. The initiative is in line with the efforts by ECOWAS, to ensure the harmonization and uniform application of policies, best practices, and measures in the transport sector to promote and enhance Intra-Community Trade and to improve the community road network to continental policies such as the Africa Free Trade , a key pillar under Strategic Objective two (2) “Promote Regional Integration” of the Four-Year Strategic Objectives 2022-2026 (4×4) of the Management of the Commission. This also aligns with the Community Strategic Framework of ECOWAS of its new Vision 2050.

Welcoming Ministers and participants to the meeting, the ECOWAS Commissioner for Infrastructure, Energy and Digitalization of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Sediko DOUKA, thanked Honorable Ministers for their good attendance which was an indication of the importance Member States place on mobilizing adequate financing for the timely maintenance of roads to the economic development of countries and improved intra-regional trade.

The Commissioner said the meeting marked one of the final steps towards adopting the road maintenance financing strategy for the ECOWAS Region. He highlighted that in addition to the peace and security interventions, the ECOWAS Commission is very actively advancing projects and initiatives in all other economic sectors such as infrastructure, energy, health, education, Tourism, Agriculture, Migration, Customs, Trade etc. to ensure the uniform development of Member States towards the achievement of the Regional Integration Agenda of ECOWAS. In the area of road infrastructure, he informed the meeting of the efforts taken by ECOWAS in close collaboration with UEMOA Commission to come out with the Regional Strategy to enhance Road Maintenance Financing. He ended by saying that “Once endorsed by this Honourable Meeting, the Commission will submit the Strategy and its related documents to the ECOWAS Statutory bodies for approval.”

Delivering the keynote address, the Honorable Minister of Equipment of the Republic of Niger, Honorable Moctar Gado Sabo, lauded the ECOWAS Commission for the initiative to establish a regional strategy which will uniformly guide all Member States in mobilizing adequate funds to adequately cover the maintenance needs of road networks. He mentioned that the Republic of Niger has put in place the institutional, legal, and funding arrangements to ensure the proper maintenance of its road network. He assured ECOWAS and other Member States of Niger’s commitment to put in place the necessary arrangements implement the Regional Strategy once adopted and urged all Member States to do likewise.

In adopting the recommendations of the Experts meeting of 26th and 27th April 2023 at the same venue that recommended the endorsement of the draft Regional Strategy, the Road Ministers unanimously agreed that road maintenance should be prioritized considering the huge investments lost to countries when roads are allowed to deteriorate beyond the required time. They highlighted the need for a strong affirmation of high-level political will for the implementation of the laudable interventions in the Strategy across all Member States. The Ministers also stressed on the need for a regional plan of action to encourage other sources of revenue for financing Road Maintenance in Member States, considering the global emphasis on green transport and electric mobility, which will impact significantly on the reliance of taxes on fossil fuels. Finally, the Ministers in support for calls to address gender challenges in the Sector, supported calls for the Strategy to intensify the involvement of women in the delivery of road construction and maintenance, throughout the value chain of skills from Engineers, technicians, and unskilled labor.

The African Development Bank in support of the Regional Strategy, assured countries to work with ECOWAS to support the implementation of the plan of action.

The issue of road maintenance in West Africa continues to be a major concern to governments, financiers, and road users due to the rapid deterioration of road pavements which increases road maintenance costs. This results in increased transportation costs and increases overall vehicle operational costs which contributes to increased transportation costs. It also contributes to road accidents and thus an increased loss of lives and disability resulting from injuries, affecting households’ economy and consequently the region. The regional Directive on road maintenance financing is therefore to provide the needed guide for Member States to learn from well proven international and regional experiences for proper planning and financing of road maintenance in the ECOWAS Region.

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