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Border closure impasse lingers on

Apr 5, 2016, 9:54 AM

The border closure impasse between The Gambia and Senegal, which started in early February this year, is still unresolved.

And the ECOWAS Commission has decided to send a fact-finding mission to ultimately find a solution to the problem.

We would like to reiterate that commercial vehicles are still not allowed to go across the borders and people are frustrated in their trade transactions.

What is really making things so difficult for both parties to mend their differences on the border closure issue that cannot be sorted out?

Cross border trade is affected, businesses run by Senegalese, Gambians and other nationals across the borders of the two nations are seriously hampered, our economies are starved of much-needed revenue and the people’s livelihood is hindered.

So many commercial trucks transiting through neighbouring countries including The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea Conakry, Mali, Mauritania and others are stuck.And while business transactions are hindered, the economies of these countries are deprived of revenues from such activities as the Inter-State Road Transit trade (ISRT) in the region.

“On average, just on the transit trade, you would do up to 10 trucks passing through [the borders of both Senegal and The Gambia]. So by the end of the year you can be talking about at least between four thousand five hundred to six thousand trucks that pass through Senegal,”the Chief Executive Officer of Gambia Chamber of Commerce and Industry has said .

“Half of this number of trucks or commercial vehicles goes through Senegal and the rest through Guinea Bissau, Mali and Guinea Conakry.”

It should also be noted that most of the commercial vehicle drivers plying the routes across the borders of both countries, who are mainly ECOWAS citizens, are now left in limbo as well as the local communities in these regions and the border towns, shops and all those that depend on such transit trade for their livelihood.

Our authorities should bear in mind that our countries are part of ECOWAS, which guarantees free movement of persons and goods in the region. And there are several other protocols including the Inter-State Road Transit (ISRT) that were set out to facilitate and grow trade among member countries and their economies. These should be respected and made to work well for both countries.

The disagreement emanating from the seemingly border transit charges must be resolved as we are sister nations and are one people tied by blood relations, religion, culture, and common membership of regional and international organisations such as OMVG, ECOWAS, AU, and the UN.

We should, therefore, be strong enough to shun acts of discord and work towards the development of both countries.

The masses of the people of both countries need a peaceful solution to this lingering issue of frequent border closure between our nations.

We would, however, like to welcome the ECOWAS Mission to The Gambia as they embark on a fact-finding mission to find an amicable solution to the problem

“Observe good faith and justice toward all nations. Cultivate peace and harmony with all.”

George Washington