The ECOWAS Commission’s consulting group, PEARL CONSULTING, has held an engagement meeting with representatives from all critical stakeholders at the Town Hall in Jendema, Soro Gbeima Chiefdom, in Pujehun district of Southern Sierra Leone.

The engagement being an initiative of the ECOWAS National Office under the PEARL Consulting that is responsible for conducting a feasibility study and structural engineering design for the construction of a Joint Border Post at the Jendema-Bo Waterside Corridor to facilitate cross-border trade and the free movement of persons and goods.

In his opening remarks, Foday Yusif Kamara, the Chairman for the occasion and District Officer of Pujehun, warmly welcomed the team of experts from PEARL Consulting group and staff from the ECOWAS National Office highlighting the importance of the project for the development of Jendema and the entire Pujehun district.

PC Mustapha J Massaquio III, representing Soro Gbema Chiefdom, graciously welcomed the delegations attending the meeting in Jendema town. He expressed profound appreciation to the ECOWAS Commission, the Government of Liberia, and particularly His Excellency, President Rtd. Dr. Julius Maada Bio, for their continuous support in ensuring the full implementation of the JBP project. PC Massaquio III also reiterated his gratitude to the Zombo Land Owning Family for providing 20.0278 acres of land for the project.

He encouraged everyone present to embrace the development and assured them of guaranteed security and a cordial working relationship with the hired ECOWAS consultants.

Madam Laygbay Lillian Amadu, Deputy Secretary and ECOWAS Desk Officer in the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, expressed appreciation to the people of Soro Gbeima Chiefdom for their commitment to the JBP project.

She warmly welcomed the consultants and reiterated the strong commitment and expectations of the President and people of Sierra Leone regarding the project. She called on the residents of Jendema to support and cooperate with the team during the feasibility studies, emphasizing the importance of community involvement, particularly involving the youth.

Prof. Adekunle T. Olowosulu, the team lead of the PEARL Consulting Group, expressed gratitude to the ECOWAS National Office for facilitating the well-attended consultative meeting with key stakeholders in the Jendema township. He stressed the importance of community participation during the feasibility studies, emphasizing that failure to involve the people in the planning phases can lead to project failures. Prof. Olowosulu also mentioned plans to include two young engineering professionals from both countries for advanced training, highlighting the importance of integrating local manpower as the program progresses.

He stated that his consultancy group has compiled the inception report, which will guide their team and the technical experts from both countries during the engineering studies assignment. He underscored the community ownership of the project and the importance of considering the project-affected individuals.

Prof. Olowosulu emphasized the involvement of locals by mentioning that his team will conduct manual traffic counts at the border posts, as opposed to relying solely on electronic counts, in order to engage people more directly.

Representatives from the Ministry of Works, National Revenue Authority, Immigration, and other border management officials on the Sierra Leone side shared their professional views on the process and expressed commitment to supporting the consultants during their six-month assignment.

Representatives from the youth and women’s groups commended the government and ECOWAS Commission for the project and called on relevant authorities to include them in the implementation phase.

The district’s security bodies also voiced their support for providing an enabling environment for the development project.

After the meeting, a joint site visit was conducted at the proposed site.

The following day, the consulting team lead and environmental expert, accompanied by the ECOWAS National team, paid courtesy visits to selected MDAs in Freetown to obtain documents and information essential for the project’s commencement.

They visited the Ministry of the Environment and Forestry, Ministry of Lands and Country Planning, Ministry of Health and Sanitation, Ministry of Transport and Aviation, Ministry of Works and Public Asset, Ministry of Gender, the Environment Protection Agency, and the Customs Department of the NRA.

Among those in attendance at the Jendema meeting were Prof. Divine O. Appiah (Environmental Expert), Parkinson’s J. Azogba (Border Expert), Fidelia Obameng (Social Scientist), James Cooper (Director of Borders), Monica Kamara (Assistant Director, MWPA), Patrick Syl Kongo (Customs Manager), LUC Fambuleh (SLP), RSLAF, and ONS, among others as was reported by the Ministry of Planning & Economic Development Communications Team.