Opinion: 2019 - 2020 Report card for Environment Minister
By Ahmed Manjang:
Happy blessed 2020 to yourself and your family, as an environmentalist and a friend, I feel it necessary to share with you my honest opinion about the performance of your ministry in addressing the number of environmental challenges facing our nation. First I would like to thank you wholeheartedly for gracing one of our tree planting exercises in August 2019 in Gunjur. Your presence was a massive morale boost for us, and I believe your presence galvanised youths of my community to double their effort in tackling many environmental issues facing The Gambia.
I would also like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude for your invitation to meet us at your high office to discuss the issue of de-gazetting the Salagi forest park in Sukuta, we are grateful you reconsidered that infamous proposal and abandoned the planaltogether. In that meeting you mentioned the issue of thirty-eight and one container of semi-processed logs and charcoal respectively that were discovered at the port, you promised an inquiry which was since constituted, and we hope the findings of which will be made public soon. Honourable minister, I would also like to commend your effort in reaching out to the media houses to clarify issues concerning your ministry, this is a good thing, and I have no doubt this trend will continue.
However, I will advise anytime you are making an appearance in these media houses make sure the facts you are presenting are cross-checked to make sure you submit nothing but the truth. I said this because in one of your recent appearance at Kerr Fatou on the 19th of September 2019, during your presentation, you informed the general public that Sunny Sludge recycling plant in Mandinary was closed when in fact it was not. I believe it was not a deliberate attempt to misform the general public. During the same presentation, you informed your audiences that finally, you have the test results for the waste Golden Lead are dumping into the ocean in Gunjur.
While not disputing the veracity of the results you presented but until such a time you made those results public we remain very apprehensive about the content of the fishmeal waste being dumped into our ocean on daily bases. It does matter the amount of treatment fishmeal waste passes through, the of amount nutrient content in the waste remain the same and these excess nutrients havesevere short and long term detrimental effect on the marine ecosystem. We call on you to exercise the powers vested on you by the constitution of the Gambia and prevail on these fishmeal factories to pull their waste pipes from our oceans. There are lots of other beneficial uses fishmeals waste can be converted into, but that is not in the interest of the investors simply because they are only interested in maximising their profits, it is people like you with power and influence to do what is suitable for Gambians.
In conclusion, we would like to call on your high office to immediately release the report of the inquiry into the 38 and 1 containers, containing semi-processed and charcoal intercepted at The Gambia port. We are calling on your office to permanently close The Sunny sludge recycling plant in Mandaring or relocate it to other parts of the country where their activities will not negatively impact on the lives of Gambians. Immediately stop all forms of export of semi-and unprocessed forestry products. Continue to engage local environmental groups.
Sir, you are well aware of the destruction brought upon the monkey park by the construction of the state of art conference centre in preparation for the OIC conference in 2022. This project involves a lot of money. I believe the project should have rehabilitation components for collateral damages done to that beautiful park. The inhabitants of that park are also Gambians, and it is our responsibility to make sure our human activity does not negatively impact on their welfare. You will agree with me that the Monkey is the only green park in the greater Banjul area, and the park provides recreation for locals and visiting tourists. We can't afford to lose it.
Finally, we would like to wish you success in your endeavours.
Senior Medical Technologist, King Fahad Medical City, Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Photo: Minister of Environment Hon. Lamin M Dibba