West African states move to remove obstacles to free movement of persons, goods


Ghana on Monday officially launched a National Steering Committee for the implementation of the regional monitoring mechanism (RMM) for the free movement of inter-state passenger vehicles, persons and goods within the West African bloc.

The RMM is a response measure by the 15-nation sub-regional body (ECOWAS) to the tremendous harassment, road blocks, delays and ill-treatments experienced by commuters along the inter-state highways.

It aims to simplify and facilitate the movement and crossing of land borders as well as to eliminate intermediate roadside checks, delays and perceived illegal benefits while ensuring the safety of people in general in a safe environment.

The national steering committee on the other hand is the entity responsible for overseeing activities related to the operationalization of the RMM.

The initiative which draws inspiration from a model instituted by Cote d’Ivoire is currently being replicated in seven other countries: Benin, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Togo, with plans of extension to other member states in the near future.

Addressing participants from the eight West African countries piloting the program, the deputy minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Charles Owiredu said it is Ghana’s steadfast conviction that free movement constitutes the cornerstone of regional integration efforts, and serves as the basis for unlocking the dividends thereof, with an immense potential to advance the sustainable development of the region.

“Today’s event is a major achievement in our collective efforts to reduce harassment along our international road corridors and at our borders with our neighbors while bringing us a great deal to the full realization of our objective of free movement,” he said.

The Team Leader at the International Center for Migration Policy Development (ICMPD) Mojisola Sodeinde said expanding this initiative to cover all the corridors of mobility within the sub-region is a positive step towards achieving the aspiration of regional integration.

“If we get it right it will mean that millions of citizens of ECOWAS member states will be able to exercise their rights of free movement without any discrimination or incidents of unnecessary harassment,” she said.

The Director for Free Movement and Tourism at ECOWAS Albert Siaw-Boateng called for the commitment, cooperation and collaboration of all actors to the realization of the overall goal of the mechanism. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh


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