Before the advent of Coronavirus, free movement between countries without a visa is allowed within the 15-country Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) region but due to the Coronavirus, the land borders are closed while the airport is open.
The vision of ECOWAS is the creation of a borderless region where the population has access to its abundant resources and can exploit the same through the creation of opportunities under a sustainable environment.
ECOWAS adopted the Protocol on Free Movement of People and Goods in 1979 to ensure free mobility of “community citizens”, i.e., citizens of ECOWAS member states, even during epidemics and pandemics. This regional agreement conferred to community citizens the right to enter and reside in the territory of any member state, with a valid travel document and international health certificate.
Truly land borders are closed but there’s a lot of porous borders where citizens use daily and this shows that closing land border was never the best solution to curb the spread of COVID-19.
Of the 15 member states of ECOWAS, 3 (20%) are landlocked; 3 (20%) have more than one seaport. Eleven (73%) countries have 1 designated airport, 3 (20%) have two airports, and only one country (6.7%) has three airports. Two hundred and seventy-eight designated ground crossings were identified in 12 countries (80%). Is closing the land border helpful for the economy of these countries?
It will be of benefit to ECOWAS member’s state to open land borders while they make the COVID-19 vaccine mandatory for travelers. Also, take pragmatic measures in curbing the pandemic while the land borders are open.
This will surely help the economy to gain feet. If travelers can travel by air with a medical certificate why can’t travelers travel by road with the same principle?
About the Writer:
Akanji Abdul Azeez is a graduate of public administration from Ahmadu Bello University, a writer, an educationist, a humanitarian, a data analyst, and currently a marketing and sales director.
Email: [email protected]