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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 00:12 GMT 01:12 UK
Gambia acts to end Senegal feud
By James Copnall
BBC News, Abidjan

The Gambia has reduced prices on the ferry across the River Gambia to halt a growing feud with neighbouring Senegal.

The Ports Authority in the tiny West African state said it was cutting the tariffs to mark the start of the Muslim month of Ramadan.

Senegalese transporters have been boycotting the ferry, following a price increase in August.

The move hit hard the economies of the two countries, prompting international diplomatic intervention.

Uneasy relations

More than nine out of 10 Gambians and Senegalese are Muslims and worthy acts are expected during Ramadan.

Another explanation would be that the Gambians have ceded to international pressure.

President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria has proposed a high level meeting in Abuja to sort out the matter.

Anglophone, the Gambia is a thin strip of land that cuts French-speaking Senegal in two.

It has been described by a prominent African historian as "a banana thrust into Senegal's mouth", but the Senegalese have not always seen the traditional value in the relationship with the country they surround.

Senegalese transporters must cross the Gambia if they're to go between the north and south of their country.

When the Gambians doubled the price for the ferry the Senegalese were furious.

They boycotted the Gambia, preferring a long detour through the east of their country along bad roads.

Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade mooted a series of solutions, including building a tunnel under the Gambia to avoid future problems.

The Senegalese boycott also hurt the Gambians for whom re-export is a major business.

Senegal and the Gambia share a common history but the relationship between the mutually dependent neighbours is rarely good.

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