a well-attended meeting held at Faraba Banta village, Kombo East District of
the West Coast Region with the commissioners of the Constitutional Review
Commission (CRC), the residents have stressed the need for more stringent
measures to protect the environment.
The people told the CRC officials that the benefits that are derived from the environment should be for the communities too.
Almami Sanneh of Madinaba said the environment should be protected and over 40% of its benefit should come back to the communities.
Sanneh pointed out that the issuance of licence to potential investors to mine within communities should be critically addressed.
“The issue of land allocation and issuance of licence for mining have led to chaos in our area. We feel that the environment should be protected and that the constitution should make provisions that will prohibit the central government from issuing licence to investors without consulting the communities,” he said.
Sanneh maintained that there is no decentralisation in the country. “The natural resources in the country should be evenly distributed,” he said.
Modou Bojang, a resident of Faraba Banta, said fishermen in the country should be empowered. He said the new constitution should make provision that before any licence is given to a foreign vessel/trawler for fishing in The Gambia, the National Assembly has to approve it.
“Our government is aware of the high rate of unemployment in the country particularly among the youth. Before issuing licence to foreign investors, why can’t the government invest in this sector by providing the citizenry with boats and vessels,” he opined.
“The fishermen in The Gambia compete with foreign fishermen in the River Gambia but they out compete them because they have bigger boats/vessels than they,” he said.
He added that the new constitution should make provision against indiscriminate fishing in the River Gambia, saying there is high level of indiscriminate fishing taking place in River Gambia.
Aja Sohna Manneh said: “The environment should be owned and managed by the communities and all benefits therein derived from the environment should benefit the communities.”
Kebba Kujabi of Faraba Banta said if the government wants peace to prevail in their communities, it should not take the issue of the environment lightly. He added that the benefit derived from the environment should be the benefit of their communities.
Lamin J. Sanneh, a teacher in Faraba Banta said the new constitution should make provisions, inhibiting the central government from issuing licence for mining without seeking the consent of the communities. He added that communities derive their benefits from the environment.
Other speakers expressed similar sentiments.