Security agencies exploit ECOWAS drivers at borders

Drivers plying West African routes were, within three months, exploited of $151.63 per trip by security agencies manning the sub-region’s borders, the Improved Road Transport Governance (IRTG) Project Report has revealed.

The amount was said to have been illegally collected from a total of 192 drivers along the Tema-Ouagadougou, Lome-Ouagadougou and Ouagadougou-Bamako borders where a driver paid at least $28.68, $90.16 and $32.78, respectively, per trip.

Drivers plying between Tema and Bamako via Ouagadougou, with 21 checkpoints, and Lome and Bamako via Ouagadougou, where there are 23 checkpoints, were the worst affected.

The IRTG also identified 75 checkpoints along the three corridors which personnel of the security agencies used to exploit the drivers, most of whom carted perishable goods such as tomatoes and other foodstuffs, as well as spare parts, electronic gadgets, among others.

The IRTG project regularly surveys primary trade corridors to measure the number of checkpoints and the extent of delays and bribery caused by police, customs and military agents.

Disseminating the findings of its third quarter research for 2008 at a press conference in Accra, the Communications and Advocacy Co-ordinator of IRTG of the West African Trade Hub (WATH), Mr Lacina Pakoun, said the situation was impeding economic development and integration in the sub-region.

He warned that if the situation was not checked, traders would abandon the West African corridor and use other routes which would be less expensive to them.

According to him, “depending on how competitive our corridors will be, it will improve on the economic development of the region”.

He said the illegal activities at the borders rather led to delays, increased the prices of goods and also reduced the competitive nature of the route.

Mr Pakoun cautioned that if the situation was not checked, it would be difficult for the sub-region to improve on its trade activities.

He said between Tema and Ouagadougou drivers encountered seven police barriers in Ghana and two in Burkina Faso, eight customs checkpoints in Ghana and three in Burkina Faso and one Gendarmerie (Military Police) in Burkina Faso.

According to him, between Ouagadougou and Bamako drivers encountered three police stops in Burkina Faso and eight in Mali, three customs checkpoints in Burkina Faso and seven in Mali and one military police checkpoint in Burkina Faso and 12 in Mali.

According Mr Pakoun from Lome to Ouagadougou drivers encountered two police stops in Burkina Faso and four in Togo, three customs checkpoints in Burkina Faso and four in Togo and one military police checkpoint in Burkina Faso and four in Togo.

He said the 75 checkpoints represented a 12 per cent increase in the third quarter of 2008, during which period the value of bribery only increased along the primary corridor in Mali, while the level of bribery paid generally declined along the other corridors.

He, therefore, advised governments to take appropriate measures to improve the movement of goods and people along the Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo corridors.

According to him, although the Ghana Police Service had issued a directive that there should not be more than four checkpoints along some routes such as Tema-Paga, the research found that there were seven checkpoints on that route.

Source: Daily Graphic

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