Gabriel Enenche —
Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, represented by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada recently commissioned the Nigeria-Cameroon border bridge and joint border post.
Jointly with his Cameroonian counterpart, Paul Biya, Buhari said the project will enhance security patrol and cooperation between the two countries. He also stated that it will boost trading and efforts in combating terrorism.
“While we have confidence that this project will accomplish its set target, it is also our hope that it will complement the current efforts of the Federal Republics of Nigeria and Cameroon to combat the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in our region, he said.
“The activities of violent extremists have become a major challenge to the development of the sub-regions. This menace has continued to threaten our economies and the maximization of the potentials of our countries as well as cause political upheavals and menace in our region. Hence it is our hope that the commissioning of this project will accelerate the efforts of our gallant security personnel who are already doing very well in securing our territories.”
Expressing delight that the project would enhance the volume of economic activities in regions particularly as well as facilitate the movement of goods and services within the countries along the Corridor, President Buhari said it would also serve as a critical link between the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and those of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
“We also pray this project will enhance interconnectivity of our people and communities and also increase the standards and reduce the barrier to interregional trade and strengthen border security, deepen inextricably the fraternal and cultural bond already existing between Nigerians and Camerounians living along the border communities.”
Speaking further, the President explained that the project was part of the ongoing Nigeria-Cameroon Multinational Highway Transport Facilitation Programme which would remain a visible testimony to the continuing cooperation and good neighbourliness between Nigeria and Cameroon as well as regional economic communities.
“This Bridge and the Joint Border Post are proof that when African regions work with African institutions of standard, critical developmental projects can be achieved in record time. This symbolizes the resolve of our people and governments to remain connected in spite of our seemingly artificial boundaries,” he said.
Commending the African Development bank (AfDB), for their role in financing the project, Buhari said that the bank under the leadership of Akinwunmi Adesina has become by all standards a beacon of support in all matter relating to Africa’s development efforts to ensure the timely completion of this project.
Cameroonian President, Paul Biya, said the Bridge and Post facilities are expected to help increase trade and strengthen cooperation between countries of the ECOWAS and those of the ECCAS in general, and between Cameroon and Nigeria in particular.
President Biya, who was represented by the Cameroonian Minister of Public Works, Emmanuel Nganou Njoumessi, said the direct beneficiaries of the programme are the transport services users, as well as the 11million inhabitants (3m in Cameroon and 8m in Nigeria) in the programme area representing 7 percent of the total population of the two countries.
According to him, the programme would reduce overall transport cost and improve the living conditions of the populations living along the road.
He further explained that the Programme for the transport facilitation of the Bamenda-Enugu road Corridor was conceived by the founding fathers as a confidence-building measure to strengthen relations between Nigeria and Cameroon following the strained relations arising as a result of the Bakassi Peninsula issue.
“The 443 kilometre long Bamenda-Enugu Corridor comprises the Cameroon Bamenda-Mfum-Ekok Road sections, the Nigerian road sections of 240 kilometres, the bridge over the Munaya River in Cameroon and the border bridge of 230 metres Mfum-Ekok Bridge over the Cross River,” he added.
Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, while expressing delight that the project has been delivered according to the scheduled time, said, “We have delivered. I can say with pride that our job has been done for the benefit of the people of Nigeria and Cameroon which the bridge connects.”
“The most important thing about this project is that the Bridge not only connects Nigeria and Cameroon but it begins a journey of a Trans-Africa connection. The Nigeria/Cameroon Multinational Highway from Enugu in Nigeria to Bamenda in Cameroon is also part of the Dakar-Lagos-Mombasa-Kenya Trans-African Highway and this is the significance of this project”.