Gambian President Adama Barrow has commissioned the 24-kilometer Senegambia Bridge access road co-financed by the African Development Bank and the European Union, saying it is a critical link that will help boost trade between Gambians and the rest of Africa.
African Development Bank Group President Dr Akinwumi Adesina toured the road during a recent visit to the West African nation. He expressed satisfaction that the bridge has increased economic integration and trade between Senegal, The Gambia, and other countries in the region.
“With the completion of the construction works here, we are confident that regional trade will be enhanced and goods and services passing through this access road will reach more distant countries with ease and on time,” President Barrow said during the inauguration held on Monday 2 October.
He said the Trans-Gambia Corridor Project, which included the construction of the Senegambia Bridge, had eliminated delays and difficulties in ferry crossings that had previously occurred between Yelli-Tenda and Bamba Tenda. It used to take at least two days to get on a ferry to cross the Gambia River. Now it takes 10 minutes for vehicles to cross the river across the bridge.
President Barrow recalled his government’s request to the African Development Bank for support to upgrade the roads and build a model one-stop border post between The Gambia and Senegal.
The African Development Bank mobilized a 16 million euro grant from the EU-Africa Investment Platform (AIP) to finance the project.
“We were convinced that strengthening the road between the northern and southern border crossings of the corridor would ensure the sustainability of the investments made in the road section. This view was reinforced by the projected increase in traffic after the completion of the bridge,” he said.
He commended the African Development Bank for its lead role in financing critical development infrastructure in the Gambia.
“In light of this achievement and other major interventions in our infrastructure development program, I wish to express our gratitude to the African Development Bank and the European Union for supporting my government’s efforts to provide the necessary infrastructure for the Gambian nation and by extension the sub-region,” President Barrow added.
The African Development Bank provided $102 million in grants for the construction of the 942-meter Senegambia Bridge under the first phase of the TransGambia Corridor Project. Since the bridge’s completion in 2019, economic integration and trade between Senegal, Gambia, and other countries in the region have increased significantly.
Adesina said that the bridge has transformed the livelihoods of nearly one million people, primarily rural communities, and private businesses in the freight sector. Vehicular traffic has increased substantially from 532 to at least 15,000 vehicles per day.
Adesina added: “Farmers now get their produce easily to markets and receive farm inputs at much lower prices. I am delighted that today, we continue the journey of hope and prosperity.”
He lauded the European Union for its cooperation and the Gambian government for its “tireless efforts and commitment”, describing the partnership as a strong “three-way cord” that has helped make the project a reality.