Senegal-Gambia border reopens

Dakar - Senegal's border with the Gambia has reopened to commercial traffic after a three-month blockade caused by Senegalese truckers, multiple sources told AFP on Wednesday.

The blockade, which had created shortages of essential daily items on both sides of the frontier, followed the Gambia's decision to slap a hundred-fold hike on fees for trucks entering its territory in February. It has since reversed the charge.

Vehicles have been crossing Senegal's six border posts with the Gambia normally since Tuesday, said Pape Seydou Dianko, a high-profile figure among Senegal's militant transport unions, speaking to AFP by phone from the border town of Karang.

"We are a republic. We talked about it with our government. We hope that our grievances will be addressed in the negotiations with the Gambia," Dianko added.

The Gambia's tiny landmass is completely surrounded by Senegal, and it is reliant on its larger neighbour to import essentials such as fuel.

A Gambian source working for the ferry service that crosses the river taking up much of the nation's territory also confirmed to AFP that traffic was flowing.

A first round of ministerial talks over several topics of tension relating to the border, including a long-delayed bridge project, ended without agreement earlier this month in Dakar. More are planned for July.

A bridge spanning Gambia's river would allow much faster journey times between northern and southern Senegal, but Gambian officials are unhappy with the current plans, potentially pushing back a project argued over for decades.

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