Newly commissioned Nigeria, Cameroon border bridge will boost free trade- Fashola

By Chioma Eche, Abuja 

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The Minister of Works and Housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola has said that the construction of the new double lane bridge on the border between Nigeria and Cameroon at Mfum community in Etung Local Government Area of Cross River state will facilitate free trade.


Commissioning the Bridge, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, said the new Border Bridge between Nigeria and Cameroon would go a long way to curtail insecurity.


President Buhari who was represented at the ceremony by the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zubairu Dada said “the Joint Border Bridge and Border Post will enhance security patrol and cooperation between Cameroun and Nigeria” 


According to him, it will also complement the current efforts of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Cameroun to combat the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in the regions.


“Their activities have continued to deter our economies and the maximization of the potential of our countries as well as cause political upheavals and menace in our regions. 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” he said.


Speaking further, Mr. Dada explained that the project, which is part of the Nigeria-Cameroun Multinational Highway and Transport Facilitation programme will remain a visible testimony to the continuing cooperation and good neighborliness between both countries as well as regional economic communities.


“This Bridge and the Joint Border Post are proof that when Africans work with African institutions of standard, critical regional developmental projects can be achieved in record time,” he stressed.


The President said he is optimistic that the commissioning of the Border Bridge and Joint Border Post will not only strengthen the existing cordial relationship between Nigeria and Cameroon but it will also enhance cooperation between ECOWAS and ECCAS countries adding that the project has the potential to enhance the volume of economic activities in the regions especially as it will facilitate the movement of goods and services within the countries along these Corridor.


“It will also serve as a vital link between the West and Central African Regions”, he disclosed.


In his remarks, the President of Cameroon, Paul Biya said 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.


Speaking on the importance of the project further, the President who was represented by the Minister of Public Works of Cameroon, Mr. Emmanuel Nganou Njoumessi said the bridge is expected to help increase trade and also strengthen cooperation between countries of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAs) and those of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in general and between Cameroon and Nigeria in particular.


“The direct beneficiaries of the programme are the transport services users, as well as the 11,000,000 inhabitants (3,000,000) in Cameroon and 8,000,000 in Nigeria) in the programme area representing 7% of the total population of both countries.” 


He added that the programme will reduce overall transport cost and improve the living conditions of the populations living along the road.

Delivering his welcome address, the Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, commended the vision of the founding fathers and with gratitude acknowledged the roles played by the funding partners, the Ministry’s Engineers/ Directors and also the host communities of Nigeria and Cameroon.


He said: “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 the project is that the bridge not only connect 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,” he explained.


In an exclusive interview with His Royal Highness Anthony Ntui Etta II, the host community of Ajassor clan, he highly commended the two countries and said that the Ajassor clan are indeed very happy and grateful for the project.


According to him, the significance of the project cannot be overemphasized as it will strengthen the bond of affinity which already exist between their community with their kiths and kins of Ekok border community in Cameroon and even beyond.


He stressed that the project would further boost trans-border commercial activities in the region.


The joint Border Bridge is one of the projects under the Transport Facilitation Programme for the Bamenda-Enugu Corridor otherwise known as the Nigeria/Cameroon Multinational Highway and Transport Facilitation Programme.


The project which began in 2017 was jointly funded by the governments of Nigeria, Cameroon and the African Development Bank Group (AfDB).


It was embarked upon by both countries as part of the confidence building measures aimed at improving relations between both countries through the facilitation of movement of people, goods and services between both countries and also as a major economic route connecting the ECOWAS countries and their counterparts in the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) thereby facilitating trade and growth in the region.

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