Mar 16, 2011, 12:51 PM
The visit was carried out to talk to the border security officials about the ECOWAS Protocol and the need for free movement of goods and people within the sub-region.
The delegation was led by the executive director of ENDA-CACID and a retired major who is working with the civil society organisation in Ziguinchor.
Upon arrival, the delegation was received by the Bissau security at the border, who said the move was a show of great solidarity among the three countries that share a common culture, values and norms.
They said all barriers should be removed to ensure free movement of people and goods within the three countries and sub-region.
The Bissau security expressed appreciation, and thanked ENDA-CACID for trying to bring integration within the sub-region, adding that bringing together various representatives from the three countries was one way of fostering the relationship and strengthening the bilateral cooperation, as well as respect for the ECOWAS protocol that has been signed by sub-regional heads of state.
They said the head of states alone could not do it all, hence there was need for the civil society to participate in the regional integration effort.
Speaking during the visit, the head of the delegation, who doubles as the Executive Director of ENDA-CACID, Dr Cheikh Tidiane Dieye, thanked the Almighty Allah for giving him the ability to ensure that his dream become a reality in bringing the three ECOWAS member countries of Senegal, Guinea Bissau and The Gambia together, to discuss the challenges and constraints faced at the borders and carve a way forward in attaining stronger regional integration within the sub-region.
He also thanked the Bissau security officials for giving his delegation the opportunity to enter into the Bissau border to talk to them about regional integration surrounding the ECOWAS Protocol, which has been a major concern.
Mr Dieye said his organization is non-governmental, formed to complement governments efforts in their drive to realise regional integration within the sub-region, especially in Senegal, The Gambia and Bissau.
He said the recent border closure between Senegal and The Gambia affected both countries, and contributed negatively towards their businesses.
“This is something that the three countries should avoid,” he added.
According to him, significant efforts have been made in recent years in the ECOWAS member states to ensure that community citizens enjoy freedom of entry, residence and establishment.
These efforts, he said, are illustrated, among others, by the abolition of visas between member states, the adoption of an ECOWAS passport and an ECOWAS biometric identity card that has a corollary and the removal of the residence permit.
Ensa Jaw, a Gambian delegate at the meeting, also thanked ENDA-CACID for organising the forum which, he said, is a platform that could afford the three countries the opportunity to share their ideas and discuss major issues affecting them.
He said bringing truck drivers, security officials and the civil society as well as government representatives in a single forum was a step in the right direction, and it would go a long way in addressing most of the people’s concerns.
He said that without such forums it would be difficult for people to understand each other, and “communication is one of the most important tools that people could use to reduce such barriers within the sub-region.”