The Gambia River Bridge ends “decades” of trade difficulties between Senegal and The Gambia.
The new bridge spanning the Gambia River will revolutionize travel and trade between the two countries but also those of the region. The Gambia is a thin strip of land on either side of the river of the same name, surrounded on three sides by Senegal.
The 1.9km bridge near Farafenni connects the two halves of The Gambia, while allowing the inhabitants of northern Senegal to easily reach the Senegalese region of Casamance to the south.
Until now, the crossing was done with an unreliable ferry or it was necessary to take the long road to circumvent Gambia. Truck drivers could spend days, and sometimes a week, in a queue to cross the river, which meant a huge loss on perishable goods. But a huge crowd was able to cross the bridge for the first time after its inauguration.
It is now possible to travel from Dakar, the capital of Senegal, to Ziguinchor in Casamance in about five hours, instead of a full day or more. The joy was complete after the inauguration of the bridge after a long wait of seven years. The ceremony was enhanced by the presence of Gambian Presidents Adama Barrow and Senegalese Macky Sall.
Senegalese musician Youssou Ndour, one of Africa’s most famous artists, performed in front of the crowd.
“I’ve been using this route for 15 years. Today, I thank God, the obstacles I have encountered over the years have finally come to an end. In addition, the bridge will cement relations between our two countries.” said a driver.
A celebration with traditional rhythms
“Sometimes I spent 10 to 20 days waiting for the ferry to cross,” says another driver. “The perishable goods could be lost, it has not only affected the drivers, but also the companies.”
There was a bridge construction plan since the 1970s, but it was delayed because relations between the two neighbours were sometimes strained.
President Macky Sall thanked the African Development Bank (AfDB), which helped finance the construction of the bridge, and paid tribute to the “Gambian people for the great success we have achieved together”.