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Getting onboard: A new highway along the Nigeria-Cameroon border is helping women commuters and villagers all around

20-Dec-2019

Women commuters along the Nigeria-Cameroon border are breathing a sigh of relief.

Before  the construction of a cross-border road in the southeast of Nigeria and northwestern Cameroon, women struggled to get seats on public transport; drivers favored male passengers because they could help push stuck vehicles out of the mud. The Enugu-Bamenda Highway has put a stop to this gender discrimination and changed the lives of those on either side of the border in other ways too.

“This road has given us potable water, houses are springing up like mushrooms, business is booming like never before, we have a boisterous market with goods flowing both into and from Cameroon. In addition, our schools have filled up with children and education quality has improved as teachers are now accepting deployment to Ekok,” said Ntufam Eno Cyprian , the clan head of the Ekok village on the border .

The 443km road runs from Enugu in Nigeria to Bamenda in Cameroon, including a 100m bridge over Cameroon’s Munaya River and a 230m bridge over the Cross River between the two countries. In addition, a state-of-the-art border post will  replace the existing one to ease the movement of goods and people. The project is currently at 96% completion.

The $430 million project  was designed to strengthen trade and cooperation between countries of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), and between Cameroon and Nigeria in particular. The project was co-funded by the African Development Bank, Ecowas, the governments of Nigeria and Cameroon, the Japan Bank for International Cooperation and the International Development Agency.

The direct beneficiaries of the project are users of public transport, as well as the 11 million local residents, representing about 5%  of the total population of the two countries.

The project has entailed  highly successful corporate social responsibility programmes, including awareness campaigns on HIV/Aids, sexually transmitted infections, nutrition and malaria, as well as road safety and environmental protection.

Results from the social awareness campaigns show that preventive knowledge on malaria improved from 41.0% to 91.4%; 97.8% of residents affirmed that they had received information on HIV/Aids, road safety and environmental health, and STI prevention rose from 41% to 85.2%.

Other benefits  that stemmed from the project include seven motorized boreholes, nine hand pumps, three palm oil- processing mills, three cassava-processing mills, one rice mill, three markets, four schools and three crop-drying yards.

“My village council is proud of ruling a village community that has transformed into a booming city,” said the clan leader.