In keeping with the pledge of the ECOWAS Parliament to ensure compliance with the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Goods and Services, the Speaker of the ECOWAS Parliament, H.E. Moustapha Cisse Lo led other Members
of Parliament on a tour of the Gambian border with Senegal.
The border tour, a fact-finding mission, was aimed at examining the level of compliance with the said ECOWAS Protocol. The Speaker said the fact-finding mission was sequel to complaints by some citizens of ECOWAS Members
States of continued inhibition of free movement of people and goods along the borders of Member States.
He noted that the mission was also an opportunity to enlighten the border officials of the fundamentals of the Protocol, recalling that in May 1979, ECOWAS Member States adopted the first Protocol relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Right of Residence and Establishment.
The Protocol stipulated the rights of ECOWAS citizens to enter, reside and establish economic activities in the territory of other Member States and offered a three-phase roadmap of five years each to achieve freedom of movement of persons after fifteen years. The speaker explained that “the first phase concerned the Right
of Visa-free Entry whereas the second phase dealt with the Right of Residency, and phase three concerns the Right of Establishment in another Member State”.
The first and second phases of the Free Movement Roadmap are fully implemented. The second phase ensured that citizens could obtain an ECOWAS residence card or permit in any Member State where-in they wish to reside. The third phase, the Right of Establishment, is being currently implemented in most Member States. It will be recalled that in the bid to facilitate the effective implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement, Heads of State and Government approved the establishment by Member States of a common ECOWAS Passport, formally known as the ECOWAS travel certificate.
The ECOWAS Passport was introduced in December 2000 to exempt holders from intraregional visa requirements and to function as an international travel document. Member States are currently in the process of implementing
a joint visa basket that cover the whole sub-region, for non-ECOWAS citizens, tagged the Eco-Visa.
ECOWAS has also implemented measures to ease the movement of persons transported in private and commercial vehicles by harmonizing policies that enable vehicles to enter and temporary reside in a Member State for up to ninety and fifteen days respectively.
Most ECOWAS Member States have, in this regards, implement the instituted ECOWAS brown card, which is an insurance for motor vehicles, which ensures coverage of civil responsibly for vehicle owners within the ECOWAS
Source: ECOPARL News