The African Development Bank (AfDB) and the European Union (EU) are helping to fund a bridge over the river separating Chad and Cameroon to boost trade between the two countries and prevent deaths caused by dangerous crossings.
The €66m ($78m) bridge over the Logone River, which forms part of the border, will transform the lives of the 2,200 people who make the crossing every day in makeshift boats, of whom approximately 70 die from drowning every year, the AfDB said.
Agriculture, timber and mining sectors are expected to benefit from the 620-m-long bridge, which the bank said would also provide safer transit in a region threatened by terror group Boko Haram.
Expected to take four years, the EU-supported project also involves paving the roads from the bridge to the nearest town in each country, a total distance of around 28km.
Today, people living along two banks of the Logone are forced to borrow makeshift boats that are too small and too few to meet demand, the AfDB said.
Transporting heavy goods is costly, as they must be driven along lengthy detours.
"Most of the trade between Cameroon and Chad, which uses the Cameroonian port of Douala for its import-export, is done by land. The new bridge will streamline traffic and boost trade between the two countries," said AfDB’s regional chief executive, Ousmane Doré, adding that the bridge would allow a more secure route for people and goods while the region is under threat from Boko Haram.
Of the €66m, €46m are loans granted to Cameroon and €20m are donations to Chad.
Image: Children by the Logone River at Yagoue, Chad, in 2008 (Irene Gaouda/Wikimedia Commons)