BY: Aja Musu Bah-Daffeh

The Ministry of Trade, Industry, Regional Integration and Employment in collaboration with the Ministry of African Integration, NEPAD and Francophone in Senegal, commemorated first ever Senegambia Free Movement Day on Thursday, 1st March 2018, at the Amdalaye Karang border.

The celebrations marked the start of the annual free movement day between The Gambia and Senegal, to strengthen one of ECOWAS most essential protocols, which is the Free Movement of Goods, Services and People. The objective of the high level event is to bring together relevant stakeholders, to raise awareness on the importance of free movement within the Sub Region, especially between The Gambia and Senegal.

The Mayor of Karang Mr. Diokine Gomis who broke down while giving the welcome remarks, thanked both President Adama Barrow and Macky Sall of the Gambia and Senegal respectively, and every other individual who has contributed in one way or the other, to strengthen the long lasting relationship between the two sister countries.

The Governor of North Bank Region (NBR) Ebrima KS Dampha, commended both Presidents of The Gambia and Senegal for the excellent commitment taken regarding the Trade agreement between the two sister countries.

Governor Dampha added that the incident that has to do with the border closure is a thing of the past; that such things should not be repeated in the history of both countries. Further, the Governor said the authorities of the two sister nations should work cordially to intercept any criminal that commits a crime in The Gambia and runs to Senegal; that such persons should be arrested and extradited to The Gambia and vis-verser. He concluded by advicing that the two sister countries should strengthen bilateral ties for the betterment of both Nations.

Pape Seydou Janko, President of the Karang Transport Association indicated boldly that there will be no more border debacles between the Gambia and Senegal; that the two countries should understand that they are all partners in building their nations as responsible people; that the two governments should see them as stakeholders and partners in development. Mr. Janko continued by urging the people of the two Nations to abide by the regulations of the ECOWAS Protocol of the free movement of goods, services and people.

Durosemi Taylor, a young entrepreneur offering Services, Transport and Logistics between The Gambia and Senegal, described the free movement of goods and services as a good move; that her staff always face challenges especially at the border; that their vehicles are sometimes stopped for 2 to 3 hours leading them to pay 24,000 CFA in order to have easy passage.

The young entrepreneur urged both governments to take the move seriously and not just to pay lip service. She urged her fellow entrepreneurs to be committed and be the change that they are advocating for in the Senegambia Free Movement.

Assan Faal, the Chief Executive Officer for Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency said the Senegambia Free Movement is important for the economy particularly for the Gambia; that Gambia being the gate way and the hub for ECOWAS, needs the initiative more than any other.

At the later part of the event, an Ambulance was delivered to the Governor of Fatick (Senegal) and a visit was made to the Karang Special Police Station and the Amdalaye Border Post. An unveiling of a panel on the free movement of People and Goods in the ECOWAS Region, plus a Multi-Actor Dialogue headed by the Dr Isatou Touray, also took place at the event.

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