Ivory Coast: September 21, 2003


Train services between landlocked Burkina Faso and the Ivorian port of Abidjan resumed after a 12 month long interruption by the civil war. The border was officially reopened to road traffic on September 10, but the first freight train from Abidjan only reached the southeastern town of Bobo Dioulasso on the 21st. President Gbagbo had blocked the resumption of normal road and rail links with Burkina Faso until recently, due to the perception that those northern neighbors supported the rebels.

Burkina Faso has traditionally relied on the rail link from Abidjan to Ouagadougou to carry most of its external trade, which is also used by landlocked Niger and Mali to import fuel. Denied use of 1,150 km long rail line, the three neighboring countries relied more on road transport to alternate West African ports (like Ghana's Sekondi/Takoradi, Togo's Lome, Benin's Cotonou, Guinea's Conakry and Senegal's Dakar. However, truck transport in the region is more expensive and less reliable, while the road infrastructure isn't up to the task of additional traffic. - Adam Geibel


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