Sep 17, 2008, 5:47 AM
The officials said the visit was part of the routine mandates of the secretariat since establishment in 2006.
The delegation of the secretariat was led by the executive secretary, Ambassador Doudo Sallah Diop.
Speaking at the end of the visit, Mr Diop hailed the high level of maturity and sense of duty of both Gambian and Senegalese border communities and securities stationed around the borders.
“We conducted this visit to establish firsthand information about the situations at the border and also visit villages along the border like Touba, Tranquil, Bantang Nyima and Darsilami.These four border villages matter a lot to the secretariat and the two governments,” the executive secretary of PSSG said.
Ambassador Diop said the purpose and intent of the trip was to sensitise the people to understand that authorities were aware of the situations at the borders and were devising measures to improve the situation.
Hon Sheriff Abba Sanyang, deputy executive secretary of PSSG, urged border residents to foster unity among themselves and respect each other’s territorial integrity.
“Senegal and The Gambia may be two separate states but the people are one and share virtually everything in common,” he said.
Hon Sanyang noted there has not been any major issue of conflict between the people living at The Gambia-Senegal borders “but the problem is their non-identification of their limitations – the erection of a border post”.
“We are urging all the people living in the borders to understand that they are one people and that border identification post should have no space to tear them apart,” he said.
Hon Sanyang explained that efforts to redress potential border conflicts led to the establishment of a Joint Boundary Commission, by the two states – Gambia and Senegal.
He said the commission is to converge “soon” to discuss the demarcation of the borders in the south as that of the north had already been done.
Ambassador Diop, executive secretary of PSSG, noted that borders are fragile areas whose issues should be addressed responsibly.
“Gambia and Senegal are two distinct sovereign states and any activity that touches on their coming together to discuss common interests should be treated with explicit attention, love and commitment,” he said.
“The Gambia and Senegal or Senegambia as a region is hard to demarcate borders both in the north and south, for the border of Senegal and The Gambia can be found in bathrooms, Bantabas (village square), and compounds.
“In many border villages, you are likely to come across a village divided into two: one side Gambia and the other Senegal. This is worsened by the fact that the people from both sides of the divide are the same people who are only separated by the colonial borders.And these borders cut through socio-cultural contours and can sometimes be very illusive.”
Ambassador Diop said because of the intriguing nature of The Gambia-Senegal borders, it has been agreed by both countries that no state should erect a major infrastructure or do a major development in a border to a certain extent without the prior consent of the bordering state.
Sasy Ceesay, director for infrastructure, communication, transport and the environment at the permanent secretariat, said terrorism activities and other heinous crimes that the majority of states are grappling with all originated from borders.
He said the PSSG is working on plans to create opportunities at borders for the people of the two states to mutually benefit.
In February 2006, the governments of The Gambia and Senegal signed an agreement paving the way for the establishment of a permanent secretariat with headquarters in Banjul.
The secretariat is established to serve as a framework for information and consultation between the two countries.It is also mandated to work on policies of common interest, particularly on border issues, harmonise such policies and programmes and also assess their impacts.