Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) in
partnership with the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), recently
organised a transit test convoy from the Gambia Port in Banjul to Giboro.
Customs manager seaport operation, Alhaji K. Mbye, said the Inter-State Road Transit (ISRT) is a custom procedure under the ECOWAS Protocol that governs the movement of goods in and from a border country.
He added that the Inter-State Road Transit starts from the office where all goods recorded on manifest for transit get their approvals from the headquarters involving a routine verification of documents and sealing of the vehicle and attaching an ECOWAS number plate for identification.
The procedures which were hitherto challenging are now smooth and today the volume of transit have increased, he revealed.
The head of Business Development and Trade Facilitation office at the Gambia Ports Authority, Essa Jawo, noted that the Inter-State Road Transit scheme is a comprehensive and integrated approach designed to reduce the complexities and cost of trade transaction processes facilitating the movement of goods to other states within the sub-region
“Inter-State Road Transit aims at ensuring that transit activities can take place in an efficient, transparent and predictable manner based on internationally agreed standards and best practice,” he remarked.
He added that Inter-State Road Transit is becoming increasingly relevant in enhancing the Gambia’s competitiveness in trade within the West African sub-region as a result of the schemes’ sufficient and cost-effective nature.
Sarata Conateh, Director for Business Development at GCCI, who supervised the Inter-State Road Transit convoy, said the ISRT involved following a vehicle from the documentation at the ports all the way to the border so as to understand the journey.
The start of the scheme, she explained came with two essential objectives that is to boost and increase transit trade and to make sure that they minimise harassments, delay, bribery and stumbling blocks along the route before the border.
“The Inter-State Road Transit is a way to measure and get testimonial from the parties involved, in particular the drivers or shippers of the goods on their experiences and further verify the information for validation,” she added.
She further explained that they have designated only three checkpoints from the port to the borders as that was how it is specific in the ECOWAS Protocol, adding that the Inter-State Road Transit increases value for the ports as it is the first point of entry.
She mentioned that there are a lot of stakeholders that are not fully aware of the benefits and how it is equipped as well as give support to ensure its sustainability for The Gambia and those that use the port.
Assistant Director of Trade at the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment, Baturuh Camara Ceesay, said the test was very important and relevant to The Gambia as it was first time showing of the processes on the ECOWAS Protocol and how it was being implemented at field level.
She assured that the processes will be very fair and correct as they are very sensitive since it is revenue and goods which are at stake.
She said that they want to be compliant to the implementation of the ECOWAS Inter-State Road Transit scheme.
The scheme, she emphasized, was important since it is trade that is being promoted both at the national and regional levels to ensure that there is free movement of goods.