Feature: China-aided road, bridge projects end decades transportation dilemma for Gambians
Gambian President Adama Barrow on Saturday inaugurated at least four road and bridge projects fully financed by China, ending decades of transportation hurdles for people and businesses in the country's Upper River Region (URR).
The projects include 51 km of asphalt road extending from Basse to Koina through Fatoto. There are also a 250-meter-long bridge linking Basse to Wuli and another 170-meter-long bridge at Fatoto, as well as the Chamoi and Suduwol bridges. The road has a concrete pavement structure with a design speed of 60 km per hour for highway and 40 km per hour in the urban intersection, according to the project document.
Fatou Touray, frequent user of roads and the river that separates her community from Basse, told Xinhua the project is the best thing that ever happened to their communities.
"We suffered here for decades. Basse is our administrative capital and that is where we access health care, high school, markets, and other important offices. But it has been so tormenting on us for years. This is extra-difficult in emergency cases especially when we have women in labor, and we couldn't cross the river because it is late. But I thank the government very much. I thank China for supporting us with this timely project," she said.
Samba Bah, riding a motorbike from Sandu to Basse almost every day for business, said: "Every day when I come here, I must pay money to boat owners to have my motorbike cross and do my business. Imagine doing this for more than almost 20 years of my life. So, this project is timely for our development."
Inaugurating the project on Saturday in Basse, the president commends the Chinese government for bankrolling the project.
"On Dec. 18, 2018, I presided over the foundation-stone laying ceremony for the commencement of the Upper River Region Roads and Bridges Project. Today, I feel greatly honored and elated to inaugurate the new URR roads and bridges. The occasion highlights the historic realization of a people's dream, and the project marks a huge national infrastructure development and a major milestone in the implementation process of the 2018-2021 National Development Plan," said the president.
According to him, the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation provided China and The Gambia a vital platform for partnership and collaboration to deepen and strengthen understanding, friendship, and cooperation between the two countries.
The president pledged that the West African nation will always commit to the one-China policy.
The Gambian Minister of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, Bai Lamin Jobe, said the project marks the fulfillment of the president's campaign promise after realizing the terrible road conditions in the region. Jobe described the quickness of this project as the fastest implemented infrastructural project in the country ever, in terms of scope, project amount, and complexity.
Deputizing for Ma Jianchun, the Chinese ambassador to The Gambia, Luo Wenjun, Economic and Commercial Counselor of Chinese Embassy in The Gambia, said China's support for The Gambia to realize its development aspirations is based on mutually beneficial results and common prosperity.
"We believe that these are the bridges of friendship to assist The Gambia to achieve economic and social development. These are the roads towards a happy life to realize the common development of the people of China and The Gambia," he said.
"This project will tremendously promote the flow of personnel, cargo, and service, and provide a powerful driving force for post-pandemic economic recovery and social integration to The Gambia and the surrounding regions. We believe that this project will lay a solid foundation for future development of The Gambia and the China-Gambia relationship," Luo added. Enditem