The governments of Nigeria and Cameroon have inaugurated the newly constructed border bridge linking both countries and a joint border post for seamless trade and migration between the two countries.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria and President Paul Biya of Cameroon, performed the joint inauguration of the 1.5 km Ekok/Mfum Bridge and Joint Border Post (JBP) at Mfun, Cross River State on Thursday.
Performing the ceremony, the Presidents said the link bridge project would deepen socio-economic and diplomatic relations between Nigeria and Cameroon, while the Joint Border Post will not only strengthen the existing cordial relations but also enhance the volume of economic activities in the region, as well as movement of persons, goods and services with countries along the corridors.
President Buhari, who was represented by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Zuberu Dada, noted that the development will provide a veritable synergy between inter-country regions to combat the teeming security challenges bedeviling the countries along region.
His words: “It will also serve as a vital link between the Western and Southern African regions. The Federal Republic of Nigeria also expects that this Joint Border Post and bridge will enhance security patrol and facilitate effective cooperation in this part of our border with the Republic of Cameroon.
“It is also our hope that it will complement the efforts of the Governments of Nigeria and Cameroon to combat the scourge of terrorism and violent extremism in our region”.
Buhari also commended the development partners, African Development Bank ( AfDB) and World Bank for providing the funds and support given to Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to help Nigeria and Cameroon to complete the project in record time.
On his part, President Biya of Cameroon, who was represented by his Minister for Public Works, Emmanuel Nganuo Djours, stated that, “The construction of the bridge over Cross River is part of the Transport Facilitation Program on the Bamenda – Manfe – Abakaliki – Enugu – corridors. The corridor covers 441 metres of road that will facilitate trade and strengthen relations between Cameroon and Nigeria”.
Also speaking at the ceremony, Nigeria’s Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who expressed delight over the completion of the project, added that the bridge will play a significant role in networking several cities across Africa.
“What is most important is that this bridge connects Nigeria and Cameroon. It is the beginning of a trans-African connection. We are not just trying to connect Nigeria and Cameroon; we are trying to connect Lagos to Mombasa in Kenya and this is the significance of this bridge,” he said.
Nigeria’s Minister of State for Transportation, Nigeria, Prince Ademola Adegoroye, who hailed the roles of international development agencies and partners in the project, stressed that inter-governmental agencies of both countries, such as Customs, Immigration and others can work in synergy to promote mutual benefits and healthy coexistence between both nations.
He said: “The main objective of this project is for better trade facilitation between both countries by combining customs clearance and other activities in one place to achieve economics of scale, simplify customs procedures and increase cooperation and coordination of controls amongst others.
“It is my hope that as border officials work together in cooperation, the ties that bind our countries will further be strengthened to the benefit of all. Also, it is hoped that the comfort of the new facility will enable the officials work together in peace and harmony, resulting in the prosperity of the people of the region,” he concluded.
The Governor of Cross River State, Prof. Ben Ayade, represented by his Commissioner for Works, Hon. Dan Osim Asu, commended the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon for the remarkable project that will boost commerce and industry along the frontier states.
The representative of the European Union, Philippe Mayaux, representative of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Mfola Marie Therese, representative of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Sediko Duok, and the Director of Operations of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Orison Amu, in their goodwill messages, commended the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon for making the project a reality.