Contracts have been signed to build a bridge over the River Gambia at Farrafenni. The idea was first discussed over 35 years ago in 1978 and it has taken until now to finalise arangements.
A bridge across the River Gambia will unite two halves of the country as well as reducing the travel time between north and south Senegal.
As well as improving access for Gambians, the tourist trade will be boosted as tourists can only reach attractions on the North Bank such as the stone circle at Wassa and the Roots village by using one of the ferries which ply their trade across the river.
The Trans-Gambia Highway provides the most important connection between the two parts of Senegal. As the N4, it runs from Kaolack and Nioro, across Gambia and then into Bignona and Ziguinchor in the Casamance. The actual Gambian section is only 25 km long. It runs through Farafenni and Soma but the 800 metre width of the Gambia River can only be crossed by a connecting ferry.
The project has attracted international funding and the African Development Bank has provided US$65m for the construction which has been awarded to Spanish and Senagalese companies and is expected to take at least three years.
The project aims to create an economic and strategic link to connect the northern and southern parts of both Gambia and Senegal. After completion of the bridge, the country will be able to allow free traffic flow between the northern and southern parts of both the countries.
Apart from the construction of the bridge, the project also includes the rehabilitation of 15km of feeder roads and construction of two regional markets.
The bridge has been designed so it can adapt to climate change especially to extreme events such as floods, increased salinity and temperature in the project area. It will allow for better traffic flow at a nominal speed of at least 40km/h.
Sources: Roadtraffic-technology, African Review, Wikipedia