SPEECH BY HIS EXCELLENCY,
PRESIDENT ADAMA BARROW,
AT THE OPENING CEREMONY OF THE SENEGAMBIA BRIDGE
21ST JANUARY 2019
Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Senegal,
The Lord Chief Justice,
Honourable Speaker of the National Assembly,
Secretary General and Head of Civil Service
Honourable National Assembly Members,
Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The inaugural ceremony of this bridge marks one of the happiest moments in my presidency and a historic day in The Gambia and the sub-region. As a result, it is a unique privilege and honour for me to perform the noble task of the official opening.
Before proceeding, however, it is with profound joy and warmth, I welcome my brother and friend, His Excellency, President Macky Sall and his delegation to this delightful occasion. President Sall, welcome, and thank you for gracing the occasion by your presence. I recognize and appreciate, also, the presence of all the delegates in our midst.
These include the delegation from the African Development Bank; the delegates representing various countries and missions in the region; the consultants, SETEC TPI of France and STUDI International of Tunisia; and, the contractors and their partners from Spain. By the same token, I heartily welcome everyone who has come to participate in this great event.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, given the geography of The Gambia and Senegal, with a river dividing both countries in two halves, I cannot help but wonder why it took so long to have a bridge at this point across the River Gambia.
In spite of the delay, this magnificent bridge will, henceforth, be a major component of the Trans-Gambia corridor - a corridor that is essential for development, integration and trade expansion within the ECOWAS sub-region.
With much appreciation, I acknowledge that the project was solely funded by the African Development Bank (AfDB) through a grant of over 3.5 billion Dalasi. Thus, we are all indebted to them for this immense and laudable support.
In this light, I express gratitude to the President, Board, Management and staff of the African Development Bank.
It is reassuring to learn that the life expectancy of the bridge is 100 years, and that all river vessels are guaranteed navigation without hindrance. With relief to all of us, this imposing bridge now ends centuries of the travel difficulties endured by people using the corridor. For many years, a lot of agricultural produce from both Senegal and The Gambia perished in stranded trucks that waited for their turns to cross the river.
This ceremony marks the end of such encounters, and it brings to an end the suffering, and even deaths caused due to delays to be ferried across. Better still, the issue of maintaining or servicing broken-down ferries at this point will now be history.
Easier movement of people and faster delivery of goods and services are now guaranteed round the clock. In addition, the social institutions on both banks of the river will serve their purpose better. This is particularly so for our hospitals and health centres, especially in cases of emergency.
Economically, the bridge will generate revenue and eliminate the related economic loss to governments and travelers due to crossing hurdles. We thank all those who contributed to this tremendous achievement.
Through this gesture, the AfDB has fittingly demonstrated their commitment to supporting the development, unity and integration of African countries. Accordingly, we are grateful to and proud of the AfDB.
With reference to Senegal, it is pleasing to note the immense brotherly support provided by His Excellency, President Macky Sall and his government throughout the project implementation phase. The Senegalese institutions provided support all the way. This is not surprising, given the unique and very cordial relationship between our governments and people.
Our appreciation extends also to the Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, Hon. Bai Lamin Jobe and his team for their dedication, and for very ably managing the project.
The consultants, as well, deserve our sincere gratitude. In fact, their presence reassures us of the good quality of the bridge, which we trust will serve us peacefully for the next hundred years, at least. Thank you, SETEC and STUDI.
We are fortunate that the current contractor rescued this project and most courageously offered to complete the contract. Many doubted their courage, but they have finally succeeded. Thank you, Tarek and Team Arezki. Our joy and pride today are fruits of your courage, determination and focus.
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,
Our wish is that the bridge stands, from now on, as a symbol of Senegambian unity, friendship and love. In this context, I am pleased to disclose that the bridge is hereby named: The Senegambia Bridge.
I congratulate everyone on the completion and inauguration of this symbol of hope, and I pray to Allah that we safely derive maximum benefit from it. It is now my delight to declare The Senegambia Bridge officially open.
I thank you all.