President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo on Friday urged member countries of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project to urgently establish an Office of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Management Authority (ALCoMA) for successful implementation of the project.

This, he said, would ensure that issues relating to land acquisition and ownership, which have the tendency to impact negatively on the project, were thoroughly managed, to prevent any hitch in the implementation of the project.

He expressed government of Ghana’s ability to host the Secretariat of the Authority since it had the environment to do so, however, it would respect the final decision of member countries.

He said with the ratification of the treaty for the establishment of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Project by member countries, the signing of the Inter-Governmental Agreement and ongoing feasibility and engineering studies, it was prudent to mount communication strategy to sensitise people along the Corridor to get their support and cooperation for successful implementation.

President Akufo-Addo made the commendation in an address read on his behalf by Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia at the opening of the 13th Ministerial Steering Committee Meeting for the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway Development Project in Accra.

The Abidjan-Lagos Steering Committee was commissioned by the Heads of State of the five participating countries in 2014, to oversee the successful implementation of the project.

The project would involve the construction of 1,080 kilometres highways through major commercial and administrative cities of Ghana, Nigeria, Togo, Benin and La Cote d’Ivoire.

The meeting attracted Ministers of Roads and Infrastructure, Trades and Industry as well as Infrastructure and Technical Commissioners from five partner countries in the sub-region and the African Development Bank, to discuss the progress made so far towards the mobilisation of resources to finance the project.

President Akufo-Addo urged member states to find meaningful ways to deal decisively with payment of compensation.

He was of the conviction that, the integration of West African nations would promote trade and business, especially with the coming into force of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).

“The significance of the development of the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor Highway, one of the initiatives towards regional integration, cannot be lost on anyone,” he added.

The project would involve road infrastructure improvement, border posts restructuring, and soft transport facilitation interventions to harmonise border control processes and procedures to improve the free flow of goods and persons.

President Akufo-Addo said the development of the Corridor has become more critical with the coming into force of the AfCFTA, whose Secretariat is in Ghana, and would cover a market of 1.2 billion people, with a combined Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of $3trillion, across 54 member states of the African Union.

The President said the efforts being made by ECOWAS to source funding for the development of the corridor project was gratifying, noting that, the African Development Bank, the European Union and German Development Corporation (GIZ) were contributing funds towards its implementation, whilst each of the five countries was contributing $1.4million for the feasibility and detailed engineering studies.

‘”I encourage other friends of Africa and financial institutions to consider supporting this project, which is economically viable and has considerable potential.

“It is important that member states take a good look at the legal and territorial parameters of the project within the regional context, as well as project management issues.

“Ghana has over 50% of the Corridor within its territory, and this makes us the most affected by this project in terms of land take.

“Whilst the benefits of the project are large, we must also be mindful of the environmental and social impact the project may have on the people in the catchment areas.

“I hope that the alignments for the project being proposed by the feasibility study, will seek to minimise property impact and displacement of persons as much as possible, “the President noted.

He said, the project would require some resettlement, therefore “we should not be seen as creating social problems or unduly and adversely impacting the lives of the people within the corridor of influence”.

He said resettlement issues should be appropriately addressed by the payment of adequate compensations to affected persons, in accordance with the national laws of the respective countries.

He urged member countries to put in place a robust communication strategy to market the project domestically, regionally and internationally to attract promoters and investors.

“We should also guarantee local content in the choice of contractors, consultants and others for the development and management of the Corridor” he added.

“Ghana has taken a keen interest in ensuring the inclusion of nationals in the development of the infrastructure, thus, offering a wide range of job opportunities for domestic businesses and labour,” he said.

He urged the Ministerial Steering Committee to continue to work, and overcome any obstacles that may arise during the implementation of this project.

He said the Abidjan-Lagos Corridor was the right direction towards development and assured of Government of Ghana’s commitment to the realisation of the Corridor.