Major new road to be built in West Africa


Construction of the Abidjan to Lagos highway – part of the long, long awaited Trans-West African Highway – will begin in 2014.

The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS has developed an action plan on the construction of the 1,028 km Lagos-Abidjan highway.  Nigeria and the other four countries concerned  – Benin, Togo, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire – adopted the plan at a meeting in Abuja with the aim of speeding up the building work.

A supra-national agency will be set up to manage the project implementation phase and ensure uniformity in approach and standards for the road whose development will be regionally coordinated.

The Abidjan – Lagos Corridor covers a total distance of 1,028km and connects some of the largest and economically most dynamic cities in West Africa, including Lagos, Accra, Cotonou, Lome and Abidjan, said Nigerian newspaper Vanguard. Building will commence sometime in 2014 and will be completed within 24 months.

Nigeria’s President Goodluck Jonathan explained that the funding of the project will be sourced from the private sector, development partners and banks, who will get return on their investment by levying tariffs and tolls on users.

The blueprint will be presented to presidents and heads of government at the forthcoming African Union Summit in late May in Addis Ababa.

The trans-west African highway network  – intended to link the Senegalese capital Dakar on Africa’s western coast with Nigeria’s commercial hub Lagos in central-west Africa – was originally envisaged back in 1967. The vision was of a high-speed road more than 4,000km long with harmonized and streamlined customs procedures.

Mike Onolememen, Nigerian minister of works who is spearheading the new initiative says a modern highway is still the way to achieve real regional integration of the ECOWAS countries, Nigerian newspaper Business Day reported. He said: “Sections of the road infrastructure are in poor condition and continue to fall below internationally acceptable standards for a regional corridor.”

He also decried the multiple check points, numerous control posts, long and costly customs procedures and lack of adequate equipment at border posts.  Against the ECOWAS stand on free movement and interstate road transport facilitation, cross-border traders and travellers with appropriate documents suffer various degrees of harassment and extortion, Onolememen said.

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