We might have pledged allegiance to different colonial cultures masters who speak different languages, but our culinary remain significantly the same and we continue to dine on the same table. Our pains and aspirations also remain the same and the familial links continue to be strengthened. Essentially, there are no major differences in the social-cultural life of the two countries, despite the trails colonial legacy.
However, when it comes to the world of politics, there unfortunately is much diatribe. Over the past many decades, if not half of a century, a number of bilateral political dispensations have been created to reclaim our wholeness, but the outcomes leave much to be desired. Border closures, mainly engineered by Senegalese transporters, have become quite commonplace, disrupting social and economic interactions. The reasons for the recurrent diplomatic tensions are many, and the Trans-Gambia Bridge is one of the key factors.
Now that the governments of both countries have pushed their fears to the back, bringing their hopes to the fore, the Trans-Gambia bridge has finally become a reality. The Gambia’s vice president, Dr Isatou Njie Saidy, and his Senegalese counterpart, Prime Minister Mohamed Boun Abdallah Dionne, represented their various heads of state in the laying of the foundation stone for the bridge. In the words of our own thoughtful Isatou Njie-Saidy, the moment marked the beginning of the realisation of one of our most complex yet socio-economically significant engineering works undertaken in transport and physical infrastructural development.
The bridge project costs over D1 billion. It is funded by the African Development Bank and will take 36 months to complete. Measuring 942 meters, the bridge will pass over the stretch of water across the River Gambia from Yelli Tenda in the north bank to Bamba Tenda in the south bank of The Gambia. More significantly, the bridge will ease movement of goods and people from northern Senegal to the restive southern province of Casamance, thus making it the most important integration project ever undertaken between the two states.
The journey we set out to do is nothing new. We happen to have more energy, commitment, wisdom and resources to take the bull by the horn. Our forefathers believed that integration of Senegal and The Gambia could be a launchpad for the realisation of the unification of the African continent. We are convinced that the authorities of both countries, as well as sub regional grouping, Ecowas, and the African Union, would work collectively towards realising the full benefits of the bridge.]]>