By Olimatou Coker & Fatoumata Joof
The Ministry of trade in collaboration with the Ministry of African integration, NEPAD and francophone in Senegal on the Thursday celebrated the Senegambia free movement day in a colourful ceremony held at Amdalai -Karang border.
This celebrative day marked the start of the annual free movement day between the two countries, Senegal and The Gambia, in order to strengthen one of ECOWAS most essential protocols on free movement of people and goods.
The objective of the high level event was to bring together all relevant stakeholders to raise awareness on the importance of free movement within the sub region, especially between the Gambia and Senegal.
Dr. Isatou Touray, Minister for Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment said the day symbolizes the commitment of both The Gambia and Senegal for greater integration. She added that it is only through enhanced economic and social integration that development goals related to poverty reduction and economic growth can be achieved.
She noted that the central goal of the ECOWAS Protocol is to ensure the free circulation of goods within the region without the payment of custom duties.
She noted that the ECOWAS Protocol relating to the Free Movement of Persons, Residence and Establishment was conceived as one of the bedrocks of regional integration efforts in West Africa in the firm belief that free movement of persons, goods, services and capital not only constitutes the fundamental basis for enhancing and consolidating the dividends of economic integration under the auspices of the ECOWAS but is also capable of influencing positively the harmonious development of social, economic and cultural activities within the sub-region.
ECOWAS member states are making efforts to ensure the effective implementation of the ECOWAS Trade Liberalization Scheme support businesses and improve our inter-ECOWAS trade, she went on.
She highlighted that the two governments are committed to working together both at technical and political levels to address regional integration challenges, adding that, they aim to establish regional integration that will be emulated by others within the sub-region and beyond.
They will continue to adopt measures that eradicate detrimental practices, she further said.
They also aim at ruling citizens with good governance, the rule of law and ensuring that the movement of goods and people are in line with the ECOWAS Protocol and national requirements that are facilitative to trade, she added.
She stated that the Gambia is committed to regional integration and will continue to work with Senegal and other ECOWAS member states to ensure full and proper implementation of relevant protocols.
She implored on security forces to make easy the free movement of people, goods and services while thanking everyone who contributed to the success of the day.
Mbagnick Ndiaye, Minister of African Integration, NEPAD and Francophone, Senegal thanked Dr. Isatou Touray for her lead role in seeing the day become a reality.
The mayor of Karang , Mr Diokine Gomez, thanked the president of the Republic of The Gambia, Adama Barrow and the president Republic of Senegal Macky Sall for their leadership that inspired a good relationship between the two countries.
The Governor of North Bank Region Ebrima KS Dampha said presidents Adama Barrow and Macky Sall “will not allow the two countries to be separated because the wish of the two presidents is to create the free movement of people, goods and services between The Gambia and Senegal.”
“We are one people and we will work together for the development of the two countries,” he said.