Interview: Amadou Koné
What measures are planned to restructure urban transport and alleviate congestion in Abidjan?
AMADOU KONÉ: The main challenges we face when looking at urban transport in Abidjan are the framework and organisation of the sector, the respect of traffic safety rules and environmental concerns relating to the lifespan of our automotive fleet.
Our strategy entails developing urban mobility at a lower cost for the population, reducing the recourse to informal transport providers and thereby reducing congestion. This will rejuvenate the sector and enable better governance. Several projects are already being implemented, such as the acquisition of 500 new buses, with another 1500 expected in the coming years; the development of lagoon transportation, with two new companies having started operations in 2017; and the renewal of the automotive fleet, which will see the acquisition of 4000 new vehicles by 2020, with the first batch having already been delivered.
Furthermore, two metro lines are included in the 2016-20 National Development Plan, one of which broke ground in November 2017 and will connect the city from north to south along a 38-km stretch. Construction work on the line is expected to last until 2022 and, once finalised, should cater to the needs of 530,000 people per day. Negotiations for the second phase will start in December 2017.
Other projects under discussion are the development of a tramway and the use of electric buses within small communes, such as the business centre, Plateau. Measures to alleviate congestion also entail major improvements to road infrastructure, such as the expansion of Marseille Boulevard and Latrille Boulevard, the construction of a ring road surrounding the city, a fourth bridge connecting Yopougon with Plateau, and the development of the Akwaba and Solibra intersections. Lastly, a project to decongest the port’s main access route is currently being assessed in collaboration with the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
How will increased investment impact the sector?
KONE: Improving our regional competitiveness will not be achieved solely through investment; we have to look at the logistics sector as a whole. The development of a logistics platform to the north of the city will ensure better management of flows to and from the port. Similarly, the renovation and expansion of the railway from Abidjan to Ouagadougou will increase capacity, and lower transport times for domestic and international trade. The continued improvement of the single window for external trade will further decrease processing times for import and export procedures. All this, together with investment in infrastructure and tools to increase port throughput, will help improve the competitiveness of our logistics sector.
Barging services between the main port and small specialised quays are also being considered. It is worth noting that currently only 8% of all products handled in the Port of Abidjan come from or go to neighbouring countries. Increasing our competitiveness is therefore paramount to regaining market share in regional trade.
What can be done to reduce the cost of transporting goods to and from neighbouring states?
KONE: Efforts must be made across the different segments of transportation, namely roads, rail and air. Regarding the latter, regional aviation companies must work together to put in place mutually agreeable strategies to ensure the segment’s financial stability and lower prices. The Yamoussoukro treaty was a step forward in this regard, although more must be done in terms of aeroplane routes and airport taxation.
Furthermore, we must lower both tariff and non-tariff barriers that exacerbate the cost of road transport within the free-trade area, and modernise the means by which certain commodities are transported, such as those used for perishable goods and livestock. The challenges to inter-regional trade are known; real efforts must now be made to mitigate their effects.
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