The Nigeria/Cameroon border bridge
The recent commissioning of the newly completed Nigeria/Cameroon Joint Border Bridge and Post at Mfum, Cross River State, by President Muhammadu Buhari, marks a historical turning point in the Nigeria/Cameroon relationship.
That Nigeria and Cameroun have come a long way in their relationship over the years is incontrovertible.
The two countries share deep cultural affinity dating back to the pre-independence colonial period. Therefore, the new bridge is a critical landmark that would further strengthen the relationship in the interest of the two countries.
Being part of the ongoing Nigeria/Cameroun multinational highway facilitation programme, the bridge represents a visible testament of the continuing cooperation and good neighbourliness between the two neighbouring countries. President Buhari commissioned the 1.5km bridge jointly with his Camerounian counterpart, Paul Biya, to the admiration of the communities living around both countries.
Speaking at the occasion, President Buhari reportedly stressed that the project will enhance trade and strengthen the relationship between the two countries for the development of the African continent. He said the expectations of the two countries include boosting trade and efforts to combat terrorism.
According to the president, who was represented by the Minister of State, Foreign Affairs, Zubairu Dada, the bridge would enhance the interconnectivity of the people and communities, improve living standards, reduce barriers to inter-regional trade and strengthen border security.
He commended the leadership of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) and the Government of the Republic of Cameroun for their collaboration to realise the project; and the African Development Bank, for providing funding for its execution and completion.
He said the completion of the project has made Nigerians and Cameroonians living on both sides of the border to be jubilant. “Such excitement symbolizes the resolve of the people and governments to remain connected in spite of our seemingly artificial boundaries.
Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, took a holistic view of the projects and declared, “We have delivered.” “I can say with pride that our job has been done for the benefit of the people of Nigeria and Cameroun which the bridge connects.”
The bridge and post, funded by the two governments, as well as the African Development Bank (AfDB), which is a classic case of regional collaboration, would increase the volume of trade and commerce between the two countries.
Expressing delight that the project would boost the volume of economic activities in the region particularly, as well as facilitate the movement of goods and services within the countries, President Buhari said it would also serve as a critical link between the countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and those of the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
“We also pray this project will enhance interconnectivity of our people and communities and also increase the standards and reduce the barrier to interregional trade and strengthen border security”, he declared adding that it would certainly “deepen inextricably the fraternal and cultural bond already existing between Nigerians and Cameroonians living along the border communities”.
President Buhari said the project, which is part of the ongoing Nigeria-Cameroun Multinational Highway Transport Facilitation Programme”, would remain a visible testimony to the continuing cooperation and good neighbourliness between Nigeria and Cameroon as well as regional economic communities.
Commending the government and people of Cameroon for their cooperation and support towards the completion of the project, President Buhari also thanked the funding partners, particularly the African Development Bank (AfDB), for their role in financing the project adding that under the leadership of Dr Akinwunmi Adesina, “the Bank has become, by all standards, a beacon of support in all matters relating to Africa’s development efforts to ensure the timely completion of this project”.
In his own remarks, his Camerounian counterpart, President Paul Biya, said the Bridge and Post facilities are expected to help increase trade and strengthen cooperation between countries of the ECOWAS and those of the ECCAS in general, and between Cameroon and Nigeria in particular.
He said 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 Cameroun following the strained relations arising as a result of the Bakassi Peninsula issue.
He explained that the 443-kilometre-long Bamenda-Enugu Corridor comprises the Cameroun Bamenda-Mfum-Ekok road sections, the Nigerian road sections of 240 kilometres, the bridge over the Munaya River in Cameroun and the border bridge of 230 metres Mfum-Ekok Bridge over the Cross River.
Furthermore, he said that the completion and commissioning of the bridge project could not have come at a more auspicious time than when Nigeria has signed and ratified the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) Agreement. Therefore, we expect that the commissioning of this Joint Border Bridge and Post will not only strengthen the existing cordial relations between Nigeria and Cameroon but also enhance cooperation between the ECOWAS and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS).
“Under the AfCFTA, this project has the potential to enhance the volume of economic activities in our regions, as well as facilitate the free movement of persons, goods and services within the countries, along the corridor. He said the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria also expects that the Joint Border Post and bridge would enhance security patrol and facilitate effective cooperation “in this part of our border with the Republic of Cameroon.”
The two-lane bridge was built by Pedelta, the lead design firm in a Joint Venture with Kedmor Engineers, which was retained by the Ministries of Public Works of Nigeria and Cameroun for engineering services of the concept and detailed design for the new bridge.
There are two main crossings on the Nigerian-Cameroun border at Banki (NGA)-Mora (CMR) in the north and Mfum (NGA)-Mamfe (CMR) in the south. It is noteworthy that there had been boundary dispute between Nigeria and Cameroun.
The Nigerian government claimed the border was that prior to the British–German agreements in 1913 and Cameroun claimed the border was laid down by the British–German agreements. The border dispute worsened in the 1980s and 1990s after some border incidents occurred, which almost caused a war between the two countries.
On August 15, 2013, the United Nations Security Council issued a statement welcoming the peaceful end, two days earlier of the special transitional regime that had been established for the Bakassi Peninsula.