The ‘Unity Bridge’ – a 24 meter span military structure implemented by EUFOR RCA – has been inaugurated in Bangui.
The project will facilitate the communications between three districts of the Central-African capital city and reunite two formerly rival areas, thus fostering inter-confessional reconciliation and pacific coexistence.
The ‘Unity Bridge’ constitutes a tangible evidence of the implementation of the European Union’s Comprehensive Approach, together with the other EUFOR RCA achievements regarding the improvement of the security situation and the contrast to criminality, leading to freedom of movement, the resumption of economic activities and normal life.
Built in cooperation with the local authorities, the ‘Unity Bridge’ is an EUFOR RCA initiative launched within the European Union Comprehensive Approach, and will provide a temporary alternative to the concrete bridge that is being built by the EU and will be ready in the coming months.
Several European countries took part to the initiative: the Czech Republic that donated the bridge upon EUFOR RCA request, Sweden that chartered a cargo flight for its transportation and Italy, whose Engineers stationed in Bangui assembled it under the technical supervision of a specialist team from Prague, along with the German-led Engineers branch of EUFOR RCA.
After a theoretical and practical training session, over 1,000 metal parts were assembled in less of 48 hours by EUFOR RCA engineers in the area between Sica 2 and Castors neighborhoods.
Structural tests were successfully conducted by EUFOR RCA in order to allow the transit of pedestrian and vehicles in a safe and secure way.
The Unity Bridge’s inauguration ceremony was attended by EUFOR RCA Operation Commander – Major General Philippe Pontiès – who cut the ribbon together with the President of the Central African Republic Catherine Samba Panza, the Head of the European Union Delegation Jean-Pierre Reymondet Commoy, and a number of dignitaries and representatives of the Government and of the International community.
In his speech before the formal inauguration, General Pontiès highlighted the symbolic value of the bridge « built in accordance of the spirit of EUFOR RCA since its deployment in April 2014 : openness, dialogue, mutual respect to facilitate the return of stability and security for all in districts that were marked by the clashes of December 2013”.
While thanking the Nations that contributed to the project, he also stressed that the bridge “highly symbolizes the importance of the European Union commitment in Central African Republic”.
Local communities spontaneously took part to the event, featuring the day before a concert by a leading musical band that gathered hundreds of people at the bridge, while several families of the neighborhoods joined the formal ceremony alongside soldiers of all EUFOR’s contributing nations, with a huge attendance of people celebrating the opening of the structure.