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The Trans-Gambia bridge project

Aug 7, 2012, 11:00 AM

We have over the years incessantly emphasised the fact that Africa needs integration now more than ever before, if we are to realise economic independence among the comity of nations.

For far too long, this continent of ours has been plagued by wars and conflicts, coupled with the spate of poverty, diseases and underdevelopment.

In making comparison of the continent with other parts of the world, one would not lose sight of the fact that Africa in terms of natural resources is substantially rich.

Perhaps what is lacking is the knowhow to exploit those resources for the betterment of our peoples.

It is in the light of this that we welcome the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the Gambia and Senegal for the implementation of the Trans-Gambia bridge, which for more than 30 years has been under consideration.

The project, financed at 100% by the African Development Bank (ADB), is estimated at €74.5 million equivalent to US$100 million, and should be completed in 2017.

It is hope that when completed, the project will help bring to fruition plans which the governments of The Gambia and Senegal have had for many years, to create a free traffic flow between the northern and southern parts of each territory in order to promote free movement of persons, goods and services between them and other countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS).

While the Gambia River lacks a fixed connection across it, the current inter-state transit on the corridor is marked by numerous barriers and check-points.

Service is by ferry and poor road conditions, which are compounded by long and costly customs procedures.

So it is our fervent hope that the project will respond to these challenges by improving transit and accessibility of the communities in the project zone; it will also reduce transport costs and travel and cross border times.

It is also the expectation of many Gambians that the project when completed will contribute significantly to the economic development of the countries, through the improvement of transport infrastructure that increases competitiveness and inclusive economic growth.

In our view, The Gambia and Senegal are uniquely positioned to teach the rest of the continent the significance and benefits of integration.

We also reiterate our insistence that the moribund Senegalo-Gambia permanent secretariat be revived.

We understand that the Consultative Commission between the two countries has been meeting, but concrete action is yet to be taken in the matter of re-establishing the Senegalo-Gambia permanent secretariat.

We believe the coming back to life of the secretariat will help strengthen bilateral cooperation and understanding to the mutual benefit of the peoples of the two countries.

We, therefore, reiterate our call for stronger and better Senegal-Gambia relations based on the activities and programmes that will be developed by technocrats of both countries at the permanent secretariat, when it becomes operational.

We want to remind all Senegambians that our common ancestry and history have bonded us together in such a way that we are condemned to live together forever.

It is, therefore, to the advantage of both states to emphasise our affinity rather than dwell on differences that are inimical to mutual progress and prosperity.

“We make our friends, we make our enemies; but God makes our next-door neighbour”.
G.K. Chesterton

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