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ECONOMYWATCH: Road impediments Vs the ISRT

Jul 17, 2013, 11:58 AM | Article By: Osman Kargbo

Official moves have been taken to institute the Inter State Road Transit (ISRT) scheme in the West African sub-region to facilitate the movements of transit goods in an efficient and cost-effective manner within the sub-region through the elimination of restrictions.

In The Gambia, implementation of the scheme starts today as announced by the Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment (MOTIE) and the Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI).

A statement by the two institutions informs the general public of the commencement of the scheme effective 17 July 2013.

From this date onwards, all goods in transit by road through The Gambia will be transported under the ISRT Scheme and that the GCCI will be the sole Guarantor for such transit goods.

All importers of transit goods and/or their agents are therefore requested to obtain the guarantee bonds solely from the GCCI, as no other private guarantor for transit goods will be recognised under this scheme.

According to a statement by the GCCI, all vehicle owners wishing to participate in this scheme are expected to register with the Chamber with immediate effect, as guidelines to facilitate the implementation of the scheme have been formulated.

ISRT, for those who may not be in the know, means a regime or scheme that allows the transportation of goods by road from one Customs Office in a member state to another member state through one or more member states free of duties, taxes and restrictions while in transit. Such goods shall be accompanied with a set of customs documents and shall not be offloaded or transferred while in transit.

This is a regional scheme which needs compliance, as it is also expected to promote a smooth and unhindered flow of regional trade, which helps to boost member countries’ revenue and ensure economies of scale.

“The objective of the scheme is to facilitate the movements of transit goods in an efficient and cost-effective manner within the sub-region through the elimination of restrictions,” a statement by the GCCI has said.

While this is very essential and timely, on the basis of the economic conditions of the sub-region, it is however a tall order.

Evidence on the ground supports this view held by many as most of the countries are yet to truly adhere to the letter and spirit of the scheme.

Contrary to the notion that the sub-region is closer to integration today than ever before, on the ground things are completely different. Physical integration is far from achievable given the numerous human impediments in the way.

Road blocks at various points of entry in most countries in the sub-region really prove that achieving a buoyant common market in the sub-region is a far-fetched objective.

Long queues of vehicles at various checkpoints cause serious problems for traders and drivers, some of whom spend days at the border checkpoints apparently for no reason, all machinated by immigration and customs officers, some of whom are only interested in getting money from drivers and traders rather than assisting them in any way to have a smooth passage.

Even for commercial vehicles that ply the route between The Gambia and Senegal the story is no different.

Drivers and traders who ply this route would tell you that you have to really spend a lot of money on the road paying some customs and immigration officials before getting through.

And if you refuse to pay they will frustrate you and deliberately waste your time. Since you wouldn’t like to go through that, you will have to give them what they ask for, as it has become a norm that everyone does; “so you have got to follow suit”.

It is expected that the ISRT scheme will provide the sub-region with the economies of scale to be derived from a bigger market that underpins our aspirations of unity, but this is difficult to achieve if the transportation of goods by road from one country’s customs office through others to another is yet to be free of duties, taxes and restrictions.

Regional cooperation and economic integration represent the only route for the West African sub-region’s survival in an increasingly globalised economy. 

The continued disparity between countries and the lack of harmonization of national policies and programmes will continue to derail and affect any progress made, if attempts are not made to address these issues in a suitable manner. 


Economic value added: (EVA) A method of evaluating companies by comparing the rate of return on investment with the weighted average cost of capital. Companies seen to be earning less than their cost of capital are said to be destroying value, while those that have a rate of return above their cost of capital are creating value.

Electronic banking: The automated facility to call up banking account details, give instructions for payments and make use of other services  by means of a computer, modern and telephone line or viewdata system.

Facultative reinsurance: A reinsurance arrangement under which the reinsurer can opt to accept, or not to accept, any risk offered; contrast treaty reinsurance (reinsurance treaty).

Financial year: A 12-month period in respect of which financial accounts are kept. Years of account for financial purposes often do no coincide with calendar years, and hence, are referred to as ‘financial years’.

Inchoate Instrument: A money instrument (e.g. a cheque, bill of exchange or promissory note) that is incomplete in all its particulars. A drawer of such an instrument can give authority to another party  to insert the missing  particulars, e.g. a drawer of a bill of exchange  can leave the name of the drawee blank, authorizing a third party to find a drawee and add that person’s name.

Independent intermediary: An independent insurance broker  owing no allegiance to any insurance company , defined as a broker selling the products of more than one life company  and of more than six general insurers, and legally bound  to give  ‘best advice’ to prospective  policyholders.

Lead time: The length of time from receiving an order to the delivery of the finished  product. In some industries (e.g. the aircraft industry) this may be many years. In other industries this may be much shorter and can be an area in which firms compete.

Line of credit: An agreed amount of loan arranged between a bank and its customer, normally to be drawn down in stages. It can also be a loan from the IMF to a member country, the total amount of which is fixed, but normally available in stages.

Liquidity: In general, availability of funds to meet claims. An economic is considered to have high liquidity, or to be highly liquid, if all its financial holdings, or assets, are in cash, and to have low liquidity if its holdings are all in forms such as property, commodities and long-term securities, that are difficult to convert into exact amounts of ready cash.

Mark-up pricing: A method by which firms determine the price to charge by looking at their average costs, and simply adding some profit margin.

Mercantilism: The belief that economies thrive by running up surpluses in the  balance of payments ( which  allows them to build up reserves of global money supply)  and that measures to promote exports and restrain imports are thus appropriate.

Source: The Penguin International Dictionary of Business and Finance