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Secy Colley Launches ECOWAS Interstate Road Transit Scheme

Aug 13, 2008, 5:14 AM | Article By: By Nfamara Jawneh

The Secretary of State for Trade, Industry and Employment, Mr. Abdou Colley, yesterday launched the ECOWAS Interstate Road Transit Scheme (ISRT) in The Gambia. The ISRT regime is a system that allows the transportation of goods by road from one customs office in a member state to another through one or more member states free of duty, taxes and restrictions while in transit.

In his launching statement, at a ceremony held at the Gambia Ports Authority Container Terminal in Banjul, Secretary of State Colley described the launching as long overdue, given its importance in facilitating trade. 

He revealed that the ECOWAS Interstate Road Transit Scheme was established in 1982 to facilitate the transportation of goods within the territories of member states so as to improve intra-ECOWAS trade. As part of the implementation modalities, he disclosed, member states signed a supplementary convention on May 29th1990 in Banjul, which Gambia ratified in April 1991. "This convention is to ensure that goods in transit are not sold in a third country and if it does the affected state should be able to claim revenue lost due to uncollected customs duties from the guarantee institution of the departure points of goods".The Trade Secretary of State further remarked that the scheme requires that goods to be transported be properly declared, inspected and sealed at the customs office of departure; follow a special itinerary and are delivered with the seals intact at the customs office of destination."Inspection at departure and upon arrival are the only points of interference from customs offices and other security officials," he added. He lamented that the sub-region is characterised by many checkpoints on roads and that people continue to face numerous cross boarder obstacles. He acknowledged that the private sector has an important role to play in the quest to improve the competitiveness and trade of the sub-region and therefore emphasised the need for greater awareness creation on the scheme.

Mr. Bai Matarr Drammeh, President Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI), said that the Chamber of Commerce was designated by the Gambia government to implement the scheme. He hailed the government for providing one million dalasis to GCCI to officially start the scheme. Mr. Drammeh called on all businesses in the country to make the best use of the ISRT in order to enjoy the its benefits.

Mr. Mam Cherno Jallow, CEO of GCCI, chaired the occasion.