president of Senegal, in a statement at the inauguration of the Senegambia
Bridge at YelliTenda Crossing Point on Sunday, has clarified that the bridge is
in Gambian territory and belongs to The Gambia.
President Macky Sall, who with his host, President Barrow officially presided over the opening of the bridge, explained that it was necessary to clarify this in light of new horizons that the Senegambia relations are attaining.
“Senegal and Gambia can only have peace. We may be colonised by French and English and therefore speak their languages as our official ones. But our native languages and cultures are ours. The benefits of the bridge are for both peoples but the bridge belongs to Gambia. It is in Gambia,” Mr. Sall said.
Top government officials of both governments on either side of the border graced the grand opening. Representatives of the African Union, the ECOWAS and the African Development Bank were among the dignitaries there, and so were mayors and representatives of Khalifa general of Kaolack.
President Sall described the inauguration as “something big for Senegambia relations” as he paid homage to his brother and friend, President Adama Barrow. The work would not have been completed today if not for the political-will shown in realising a long time Senegambia dream.
The Trans-Gambia Corridor Project is expected to facilitate overland traffic flow between the northern and southern parts of both The Gambia and Senegal, including West Africa and sub-region. The 243km road stretch corridor (Kaolack-Dingiraiya - Kerr Ayib – Farafenni – Senoba – Bigona – Zinguichor) will serve both intrastate and interstate traffic.
Given the geography of The Gambia and Senegal, with a river dividing both countries in two halves, President Adama Barrow in his inaugural speech said he could not help but wonder why it took so long to have a bridge at this point across the River Gambia.
In 1956, the first meeting between The Gambian minister of Works and Infrastructure, Rev. J.C. Faye and Senegalese counterpart agreed on two things: to construct a bridge across this crossing point and a road from KeurAyub to Senoba through Soma and Farafenni.
In 1961, when P.S. Njie became Chief Minister, The Gambia and Senegal became independent a year earlier, a special Inter-Ministerial Committee (IMC) was set up to discuss the TRANSGAMBIA BRIDGE.
In 1962, Sir Dawda Jawara became Chief Minister of The Gambia and gave this project a priority. He went around the World looking for funds. In 1971, France committed 3Million Pounds and extra funds to do a feasibility study, a new plan and a new costing of the project.
However, the project never kicked off due to what the current Minister of Works, Bai Lamin Jobe blamed on political, environmental and contractual issues.
“In spite of the delay, this magnificent bridge will, henceforth, be a major component of the Trans-Gambia corridor - a corridor that is essential for development, integration and trade expansion within the ECOWAS sub-region,” President Barrow told the gathering, as they cheered and waved flags of Gambia and Senegal.
The African Development Bank (AfDB) solely funded the project with a grant of over 3.5 billion dalasis.