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Cablegate: Cote D'ivoire: Higher Tolls and Longer Delays Characterize

VZCZCXRO1606
RR RUEHMA RUEHPA
DE RUEHAB #0158/01 0421610
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 111609Z FEB 10
FM AMEMBASSY ABIDJAN
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0152
INFO ECOWAS COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABIDJAN 000158

SIPDIS
DEPT FOR AF/W AND DS/IP/AF

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC PGOV ECON ELTN KCOR IV
SUBJECT: COTE D'IVOIRE: HIGHER TOLLS AND LONGER DELAYS CHARACTERIZE
TRAVEL IN REBEL-CONTROLLED NORTH

1. Summary: Preliminary data collected by the West African Trade
Hub on the Ouagadougou-Abidjan transportation corridor portray a
divided country. The Forces Nouvelles (FAFN) demand approximately
2/3 more money than the Government of Cote d'Ivoire (GOCI) for
permits and bribes on sections of the route they control.
Additionally, delays in the north can be significantly longer than
those transporters face in the south. Data provided by commercial
drivers and collected by the Trade Hub in coming months should
provide post with a valuable metric to track reunification after
seven years of northern autonomy. End Summary.

The Ouagadougou-Abidjan Corridor

--------------------------------

2. Embassy representatives recently met with Accra-based USAID
contractors Patrick Kpenou and Amadou Ba, who reported their
completion of an initial survey of the Ouagadougou-Abidjan corridor
for the Improved Road Transport Initiative being conducted under
the auspices of the West Africa Trade Hub. The survey consisted of
Mr. Kpenou actually accompanying a legal truck on the route and
recording all the bribes, fees and checkpoints along the way. An
LES from the RSO office accompanied him during parts of the survey.


3. Laleraba/Lolobo/Abidjan: After crossing the frontier from
Burkina Faso at Laleraba, the vehicles and drivers were processed
through Forces Nouvelles immigration and customs. Drivers
purchased a FAFN Ticket de Convoyage for the equivalent in local
currency of USD 289, which was supposed to allow the driver to pass
through checkpoints along the approximately 500 kilometers of
FAFN-controlled route as well as the 236 kilometers of
GOCI-controlled route without paying bribes. Leaving Laleraba, the
truck was stopped at 19 checkpoints, where the driver paid the
equivalent of USD 78 in bribes before reaching the government
controlled village of Lolobo. During the 236-kilometer trip in the
GOCI-controlled area from Lolobo to Abidjan, the driver was stopped
at 10 additional checkpoints and paid the equivalent of USD 44 in
bribes. The rebel-controlled segment of the journey cost USD 367
and passed through 19 checkpoints that resulted in delays of more
than two hours; in contrast, the government-controlled portion of
the route cost about USD 44 and passed through 10 checkpoints,
resulting in 54 minutes of delays.

4. Abidjan/Lolobo/Laleraba: Before leaving the port of Abidjan,
the drivers again purchased a Ticket de Convoyage, this time from
Ivoirian Customs for the equivalent of USD 222. Despite the
guarantee of free passage on the GOCI-controlled segments of the
trip, the truckers were stopped at 12 checkpoints, paid the
equivalent of USD 27 in bribes, and were delayed for about two and
a half hours. In Forces Nouvelles controlled sections of the
route, the trip cost USD 129 in bribes that were paid at 19
checkpoints. The vehicle was also delayed almost 18 hours en route
from Lolobo to the Burkina Faso frontier.

5. Surveyors noted that checkpoints in FAFN-controlled zones were
typically manned by 6 - 15 soldiers attired in a variety of
uniforms and carrying a mix of light weapons. In contrast, in the
government sectors, interagency teams composed of uniformed
National Police, Customs, Gendarme, Forestry Police and Anti-Drug
Police manned the checkpoints. The drivers paid each service
separately, with the highest percentage of bribes going to Customs
officials and the lowest to the Forestry Police. HUB
Transportation expert Patrick Kpenou remarked that it was like
traveling in two different countries.

The Next Steps

--------------

6. Based on the initial survey, a form was designed for legal
drivers to collect data when they travel the corridor. Hub
Officials estimated that approximately 200 legal trucks a day

ABIDJAN 00000158 002 OF 002


travel the corridor. (Note: Based on prior experience in West
Africa, Hub officials remarked that only slightly more than half of
the trucks on the road are legal. End Note.) At the conclusion of
each trip, forms will be collected and the information collated.
The information will be disseminated periodically to government
officials and non-governmental organizations in an effort to
eliminate barriers, delays and bribes along the route. Mr. Kpenou
said that while corruption and delays are endemic to the transport
industry in West Africa, the disparities between the north and
south in Cote d'Ivoire are unusual because they occur within in a
single state.

7. Embassy Comment: As data is compiled in the coming months, we
will monitor HUB reports for indicators that the central government
is re-establishing control in the north. Key indicators we
anticipate include:

- Re-establishment of the presence of uniformed Immigration and
Customs officials at the border crossing at Laleraba;

- Harmonization between FAFN and GOCI Tickets de Convoyage issued
at Laleraba and Port of Abidjan, respectively, in terms of prices
and forms;

- The presence of uniformed officials representing the National
Police, Customs, Gendarmes, Forest Police and Anti-Drug Police at
all checkpoints; and

- A reduction in delays in the currently FAFN-controlled regions
of the country. End comment.
STANLEY

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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