Nigeria and Cameroon inaugurated a newly constructed 1.5 km Ekok-Mfum border bridge linking both countries and a joint border post for seamless trade and migration between the two countries.
This is contained in a statement issued by the deputy director, Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Transportation, MrsAnastasia Ogbonna.
President Muhammadu Buhari was represented by the minister of foreign affairs, Mr Zubairu Dada, while President Paul Biyaof Cameroon was represented by the minister of Public Works, Mr Emmanuelle Njoumessi.
Buhari said the 1.5 km Ekok-Mfum Bridge and Joint Border Post (JBP) at Mfum, Cross River, would deepen socio-economic and diplomatic relations between both countries.
He said the project would provide veritable synergy and combat the teeming security challenges bedevilling countries along the region.
“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,” he said.
Buhari commended the development partners, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the World Bank, for providing the funds for the realisation of the project.
He also commended support by the partners to the Economic Community of West Africa (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) to help Nigeria and Cameroon complete the project in record time.
On his part, President Paul Biya said, “The construction of the bridge over Cross River is part of the Transport Facilitation Programme on the Bamenda – Manfe – Abakaliki – Enugu – corridors.”
According to Biya, the corridor covers 441 metres of road that will facilitate trade and strengthen relations between Cameroon and Nigeria.
He said the joint border post would not only strengthen the existing cordial relations but also enhance the volume of economic activities in the region.
He reiterated that it would also aid the movement of persons, goods and services within countries along the corridors.
Also speaking, minister of works and housing, Mr BabatundeFashola, who expressed delight over the completion of the project, restated that the bridge would 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.
Minister of state for transportation, Ademola Adegoroye, on his part hailed the roles of international development agencies and partners in the project.
Adegoroye said that inter-governmental agencies of both countries, such as Customs, Immigration and others could work in synergy to promote mutual benefits and healthy co-existence between both nations.
He said: “The main objective of this project is for better trade facilitation between both countries.
”This will be achieved 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 to work together in peace and harmony, resulting in the prosperity of the people of the region,” he said.
The representatives of the European Union, Mr Philippe Mayaux; the ECCAS, Mr Mfola Marie; ECOWAS, Mr SedikoDuok, and the director of Operations of the AfDB, Mr Orison Amu, in their goodwill messages, commended the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon for making the project a reality.
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