Many years after it was conceived, the Zamfara-Sokoto-Kebbi-Tahoua cross border trade route has finally become a reality with its official launch in Sokoto Tuesday.
The event, which held in Sokoto Government House, had in attendance Governors Aminu Waziri Tambuwal, Abubakar Atiku Bagudu of Sokoto and Kebbi states, as well as Abdulrahman Musa of Tahoua region of Niger Republic.
In his remarks, Tambuwal said the launching of the trade corridor is another landmark achievement of the Nigeria-Niger Joint Commission, who aim is to ensure growth and economic development of the two countries.
He said the initiative will positively redress the several obstacles experienced by the country’s cross- border traders such as road harassment, multiple and sometimes illegal check points, unnecessary delays and unlawful charges at the borders.
He said such illegalities hinder agro- pastoral business in the borders and deter their collective efforts towards achieving regional economic integration.
The Sokoto Governor therefore enjoined all stakeholders to ensure faithful implementation of the project so as to ensure full realization of its primary objectives which include serving as catalyst for free flow of goods and boosting of trade transactions within the corridor.
He said Sokoto state government, in collaboration with the Federal Government, will establish and upgrade some infrastructures and institutions in the state that would support the corridor.
“Such infrastructures include establishment of the Illela International market which will promote high level commercial activities in the area and the planned extension of rail service from Kaura Namoda to Sokoto and the Niger Republic border as well as establishment of Truck Transit Park,” he added.
Others are business information centre and inland dry port at illela to ensure effective import and export of products to and from Nigeria.
Tambuwal said so far, the state government has embarked on the construction of some important Trunk A roads that link Sokoto state with Niger Republic. The roads according to him were started during the last administration in the state and are presently being executed with renewed vigor by the current administration.
The roads include Ruwa Wuri-Niger road, Tsululu-Kuya junction and Wauru -Kadadi-Rafin Duma-Galmi roads.
In their separate remarks, Governors Bagudu and Musa expressed optimism that the trans-border trade between the zone and Niger Republic will increase economic activities and be of benefit of citizens of both countries.
Diplomats from the two countries’ external affairs ministries witnessed the event.