ECOWAS seamless border crossing still a long way off


3rd ECOWAS Cycling TourIn spite of the initial delay that slowed down the take-off of the  3rd ECOWAS Cycling Tour on Nov.13 from Lagos, the race eventually hit the road.

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This was after the late arrival of route vehicles that were sourced from Cote d’Ivoire.

The 30-vehicle convoy which ought to have arrived Lagos before the flag-off of the regional cycling tour, got bogged down by protocol demands at the various border-crossings en route Lagos.

The unwholesome development inadvertently, made a mockery of seamless border crossing in the ECOWAS sub-region  which the tour was aiming to emphasise.

By the time the route drivers eventually arrived in Lagos, the drivers, who were obviously tired after three gruelling nights, had to be given time to freshen up at the National Stadium, Lagos to be able to make the race.

“Although they arrived  later than the planned 8 a.m. flag-off time that forced the race to commence late, it proved to be positive in a way, as it facilitated smooth handling of the usual chaotic Lagos traffic,’’ noted an official.

Francis Njoaguani, the Director of the ECOWAS Youth and Sports Centre, acknowledged that the delay proved to be positive, as it allowed the combined team of police and the Road Safety official time to ensure smooth passage in Lagos.

The participants were unanimous in praising the Nigerian Local Organising Committee for providing a new route that proved a good alternative.

The tour was routed through Mushin-Oshodi-Agege-Motor Road-Egbeda-Igando and Okokomaiko to Badagry, west of Lagos.

Unlike the second edition, where many cyclists fell off their bikes, only a cyclist, Sulayman Colley, a Gambian, fell off his bike this time on the Badagry-Cotonou route.

This was because of the pock mark nature of some sections of the international highway that was in dire need of maintenance.

The development made Dagner Omar, the Chief Race Director, to say that the Gambian cyclist could no longer participate in the race because of a shoulder injury from the fall he had on the Badagry Expressway.

Most of the tour officials were of the opinion that the Nigerian government ought to have fixed the race route.

Telephony, across the West African sub-region which used to pose challenges in the past, appeared to be getting better.

Prior to this time, Nigerians used to carry several handsets, Etisalat, GLO, MTN with the hope that at least one or more of them could work en route.

In a bid to ensure fairness in the ongoing 3rd EC0WAS Cycling tour, the organisers in the Youth and Sports Centre introduced doping control measures in the competition.

According to Njoaguani, the sampling would be randomly carried out as no rider would know who could be picked to be tested.

“The measure is to serve as a preventive step as no body or team is being targeted.

“We do not want any team to think of doping at all,” he said. (NAN)

Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola
Babatunde Akinsola is aNaija247news' Southwest editor. He's based in Lagos and writes on the Yoruba Nation political issues, news and investigative reports

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