By Taiye Elebiyo/Collins Yakubu-Hammer
Abuja – The Federal Ministry of Transportation says it will implement the Interstate Road Transit (ISRT) Scheme in 2018 to generate employment and facilitate trade between ECOWAS region.
Mrs Anthonia Ekpa, the Director (Road Mass Transit), Federal Ministry of Transportation, made the promise in Abuja on Tuesday while talking to newsmen.
According to her, the Federal Government appointed NEXIM bank as the national guarantor for the project in 1992 with the sum of N500 million to be paid to the bank to commence the project.
She said that over N300 million had been released to NEXIM bank between 2015 till date since the advent of the current administration.
Ekpa said NEXIM bank had the responsibility of guaranteeing goods transiting through Nigeria to other ECOWAS countries against the risk of diversion.
“We are putting in place what is called the Inter State Road Transit Scheme.
“In the sense that it provide for the sector, especially those who are involved in importation and exportation of goods in utilisation of roads for passage of goods.
“The project offers to such people, an insurance mechanism so that goods that are transited from Nigeria to countries along the ECOWAS corridors are insured.
“Nigeria has released over N300 million to NEXIM bank between 2015 and now.
“The irony for us which is a pleasant one is the fact that N500 million was what was required in 1992 and are still willing in 2017 to collect the same amount to kick start the project.
“It is a huge project and we are glad because we see it as one of the job creation factors for the sector.
“We also look at improving our relationship with ECOWAS by implementing all the policies and programmes that are required to make business transaction between Nigeria and other countries very useful’’.
She said that Nigerian ports had been boycotted by transporters, adding that transporters preferred to go through Cotonou or Ghana because Nigerian ports were not compliant to this ECOWAS protocol.
The director said ECOWAS had completed the Joint Boarder Post which the department played a vital role, explaing that the post was a boundary setup between Nigeria and Benin republic.
“Trucks and vehicles that are going from Nigeria to other ECOWAS countries along the Benin-Abidjan-Lagos corridor are scanned so that people do not bring in arms.
“It is a good check point for monitoring transit between Nigeria and its bordering countries, the aspiration of the government and ECOWAS is to minimise the hold ups that we have been having on that corridor.
She said ECOWAS was formed primarily to facilitate the establishment of a single market in the West African sub-region, which would lead to economic development of the region.