SENEGAL: Archbishop calls for Reconciliation over Gambia-Senegal Border Dispute

DAKAR MAY 13, 2016 (CISA) – Archbishop Benjamin Ndiaye of the Catholic Archdiocese of Dakar has urged the faithful of Senegal and The Gambia “to pray for reconciliation between the two countries” who’ve been locked in a trade and border dispute.

The Archbishop was speaking last week during the celebration of the 50th World Day of Social Communications and Africa Day, reported Fides.

The border was shut due to a two-month blockade by Senegalese drivers after the levy they have to pay to cross The Gambia was increased 100 times – from 4,000 CFA per truck to 400,000 CFA (£500; $700).

As a result, travelers between north and south Senegal are currently being forced to take a 10-hour detour because of the trade dispute. Among those hardest-hit by the border closure are those transporting goods into The Gambia.

The frontier between the two countries is among the many artificial borders drawn up in Africa by the colonial powers in the 19th Century; The Gambia, colonized by the British is a thin slice of land either side of River Gambia, surrounded on three sides by French-speaking Senegal.

On either side, people share the same culture and local languages but those who have been to school are divided by the language in which they were instructed.

By far the shortest route between the southern Senegalese region of Casamance and the capital, Dakar, goes through The Gambia but with the border currently closed, the 420km (260-mile) journey is now twice as long. Travelers and Lorries are driving all the way round The Gambia, via Tambacounda

This means that a five-six hour journey can – depending on the ferry crossing – take up to 15 hours.

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