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The Feasibility and Engineering Studies for the 6-lane multinational Abidjan-Lagos Corri-dor Highway Project is set to advance into the “Detailed Engineering Design Studies“ Phase

Abuja, Nigeria, June 4, 2021. Ministers in-charge of Road Infrastructure from the five ECOWAS Member States along the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor, who form the Project Steering Committee, met on June 4, 2021, to review the progress of the project to Construct a 6-lane multinational highway from Abidjan in Cote d’Ivoire through Ghana, Togo, Benin to Lagos in Nigeria.

The Ministers considered recommendations from Committee of Experts (Project Engineers) regarding revised Traffic Study Reports; phasing of the number of lanes to be constructed, and particular technical elements such as integrating ongoing construction works on the Lagos section, minimizing property impact and flooding associated with the proposed Cotonou by-pass; the feasibility of a tunnel option to avoid the populated and densely built parts of Accra which presents an extensive property impact; and the proposals for the best tolling system to be adopted for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway.

Welcoming Honorable Ministers to the 14th Steering Committee meeting for the Corridor Project, the Commissioner for Infrastructure of the ECOWAS Commission, Mr. Pathe Gueye high-lighted the progress chocked under all components of the technical studies, especially the Feasibility and Engineering Design Studies.

Mr. Gueye recalled that since approving the commencement of the feasibility and preliminary phase in January 2020 the Commission has been supervising the work of the design consultants to submit the deliverables as per the contracts. He noted that significant delays were however experienced in the implementation schedule, primarily because of the COVID-19 pandemic which disrupted study activities, planned cross-border field surveys and site investigations which were planned mostly in the year 2020.

He however assured the Ministers that in heeding to the persistent call by Member States and project stakeholders to complete the design studies for the construction works to begin, the ECOWAS Commission is working hard with the three design Consultants to conclude the de-signs and tender documents for implementation.

The Chairman of the Project Steering Committee, Honorable Babatunde Raji Fashola, Minister of Works and Housing for the Federal Republic of Nigeria, in his keynote address applauded the Commission to ensuring that the Design Studies stayed on course, in the face of all the movement challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. He reiterated the expectation of the Heads of State and Government of the Corridor countries which is to complete the design studies and mobilize the needed finance to undertake the physical construction of the Highway. He thanked ECOWAS for the opportunity granted to the Ministerial Steering Committee to be apprised on the project progress.

The meeting also witnessed short remarks by Honorable Ministers in-charge of Road Infrastructure for Benin, Honorable Mr. Hervé HEHOMEY; Cote D’Ivoire, Honorable Dr. Amede Koffi KOUAKOU, Ghana, Honorable Mr. Kwasi AMOAKO-ATTAH; and Togo, Honorable Mrs. Zouréhatou KASSAH-TRAORE. There were also solidarity messages by the two key development partners on the project namely, the African Development Bank the European Union represented by Mrs. Lydie Ehouman, Transport Economist and the Office In-charge of the PIC Unit Mr. Sani Garba with the Abidjan Delegation of the European Union.

The Ministers deliberated on recommendations by the Project Directors, Engineers and Experts and made strategic conclusions and decisions covering additional funding for the technical studies; establishment of the new Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA) which is created in the Corridor Treaty and mandated construct, manage and operate the corridor on behalf of the five countries; procurement of other technical components and the re-vised project implementation schedule for fast-tracking the feasibility and detailed engineering design studies.

On the issue of additional funding for the technical studies, the Honorable Ministers urged the African Development Bank and European Union to work on the outstanding documentation and agreements to enable the disbursement of the additional EU Grant for the project, prefer-ably before the end July, 2021. The Ministers tasked ECOWAS Commission to follow-up with the Partners and report back to enable the Ministers consult with their respective national offices and delegations.

In view of the progress of the Feasibility and detailed Engineering Studies, they agreed for the ECOWAS Commission to initiate processes towards the establishment of ALCoMA and make interim arrangements for the recruitment of the core start-up staff to begin the operations. They also pledged to work with Ghana (current Chair of the ECOWAS Authority of Heads of State and Government) and the Chair of the Committee to fast-track the decision by the Presidents on the location of ALCoMA’s Headquarters.

On the issue of outstanding Project Components, the Ministers tasked ECOWAS to immediately initiate the procurement activities of the PPP Structuring and Transaction Advisory Study and the Trade & Transport Facilitation in coordination with the deliverables of the feasibility and detailed engineering studies.

ECOWAS was urged to fast-track its internal procurement and disbursement process that sometimes hinder project implementation progress. The Ministers also agreed for special technical meetings to be held with Consultants on the Cotonou bypass and Lagos Section with Authorities in Benin and Nigeria in attendance, for the necessary revisions to be made during the Phase 3 of the studies. Also, in order to ensure the corridor is de-signed and implemented as a single whole, ECOWAS, Member States and development partners should examine the viability of the proposed Tunnel on the Accra Bypass section, and immediately decide on the next steps.

The final Revised Feasibility and Preliminary Design Study Reports for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway project will be submitted by all three Consultants to the ECOWAS Commission before 31st July 2021 and will be subjected to the final review of Member States and Partners. This will be followed by the Detailed Engineering Design Studies phase which is expected to commence on 31st August 2021 barring any unplanned challenges with the submissions and validation by member state engineers.

Concluding the meeting the Ministers adopted the revised schedule and tasked ECOWAS and respective member state Project Directors to ensure timely review reports and provide additional information required by Consultants and ensure that Consultants comply with agreed submission deadlines. The Steering Committee lauded the commitment of AfDB and EU to the project, especially the efforts made to mobilize additional resources to fund the gap needed to cover all components of the Project.

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