Accra, Sept. 23, GNA - Transport Ministers of Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso are meeting in Accra to review the status of the implementation of the proposed Community Roads Programme of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) that would create a road transport corridor from Tema through Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso to Bamako in Mali to facilitate trade links.
The aim of the two-day ministerial meeting is principally to assess the status of preparation of the three countries towards the fulfilment of the conditions precedent to credit effectiveness.
The African Development Bank (ADB) is supporting the project dubbed, "Roads Programme Phase One" with 95 million dollars. But the countries would have to meet certain criteria before the ADB releases funds for the full implementation of the project.
The meeting, which is being organised by the Ministry of Roads and Transport, is under the auspices of the ADB and the Economic Union of West African Countries (UEMOA). This is the second of such, - the first was held in March 28, 2004 in Bamako, Mali. It brings together experts, stakeholders and institutions in the transport sector from the three countries.
Key issues to be addressed at the meeting by the participants include the establishment of joint border posts, formulation of a joint technical committee to supervise the project implementation, formation of corridor management committee and the institutionalisation of measures to control axle loading.
Others are the adoption of a single road transit booklet for crossing borders and the mobilisation of supplementary resources for the rehabilitation of the entire corridor.
The Minister of Roads and Transport, Mr Richard Anane who opened the Accra meeting said that in order to overcome the chasm of development that had widened between the "Third" and the "First" worlds over the centuries, a concerted effort was required in the form of regional institutional reforms to ensure and strengthen the collaboration and integration of societies and economies to be competitive on the global market.
He said that globalisation had made it possible for the integration of national systems of production and finance, which had been reflected in the exponential growth in the scale of cross-border flows of goods, services and capital throughout the world.
Dr Anane said the people of the three countries could be empowered to increase productivity and take advantage of the region's untapped natural resources to make life better if a facilitatory transport infrastructure was put in place.
"It is accepted that transportation infrastructure is one of the major parameters of economic growth and that can propel Africa to rise to the level of the developed countries."
Dr Anane said that the initiation of the cooperation between the three countries under the Road Programme would improve the road infrastructure to open the communication lines between. This would give the necessary incentive for people to trade among themselves and also transfer technologies for the welfare of the people.
He noted that even though the three countries had negotiated for Phase One of the Programme, certain actions would have to be collectively taken to ensure credit and disbursement effectiveness to ensure the full benefit of the investment to be made under the programme.
The Minister tasked the participants to frankly tackle the key issues that would militate against the success of the project and also take the necessary action to develop similar programmes for the development of the Trans West African Coastal Highway.
Ghana's particular interest in the Trans West African Coastal Highway is the development of the western corridor from Takoradi Port to Hamile through Bamboi.
Mr Moctar Mbodj, a Transport Economist with the ADB, said the project would strengthen the economic cooperation between Ghana, Mali and Burkina Faso.
The project would also improve trade links between the coastal and landlocked countries as well as set up a system to monitor goods from one country to the other.
Mr Hippolyte Lingani, Transport Minister for Mali, said the Accra meeting demonstrated the will of states to carry out projects that would not only lead to development but integration of their various countries, particularly the land-locked countries of Burkina Faso and Mali. The Ghana Government's current Road Sector Development Programme, among others, aims at developing the road corridor from Tema and Takoradi ports to Burkina Faso and Mali.
Some sections of the route from Tema through Accra, Kumasi, Techiman, Kintampo and Tamale to Paga (about 846.5km) are currently under construction to a transit corridor standard to improve the transportation linkage to Burkina Faso.
The section from Techiman to Kintampo, a distance of 62km, would be constructed with funding from the ADB under Phase One of the Community Roads Programme. 23 Sept. 04