Dec 14, 2010, 4:37 PM
It is with a deep sense of concern that inspired me to raise a red flag regarding the incessant cutting of mangroves along the Old Cape Road, Bakau. This site is frequently intruded mostly by women who could be seen, on a daily basis, cutting the mangroves for firewood. The rate at which the poaching is done makes me wonder if it is not done for commercial purposes.
Consequently, a vast stretch of dead mangroves could be visible on the site, covering more than 150 square meters.This has serious implications not just for the residents of Bakau, but the nation at large, for the implications clearly transcend indigenous interest.
Given the significance of the area, especially in terms of providing not only a breeding ground for fish, but also a protective cover from strong sea waves that constantly wash the beach away, it is hence worth protecting the area.
This act is seemingly rife at a time when the nation and the world at large preach and teach the ideals of a ‘green revolution’ that raises our hope for food security as well as protection from the effects of ozone layer depletion and related impacts.
Over the past one year or so, the profile of this site underwent significant negative alteration, ranging from disappearance of more than thirty meters of a beautiful beach endowed with clean white sand, ten to fifteen meters of a stretch of mangroves on the immediate proximity of the beach and up to twenty-five meters of breeding ground for fish.
More importantly, the sea waves now have direct access to the bridge that is meant to control the flow of water between the two sides of the road, during high and low tides. Consequently, the sides of the bridge are rapidly being eroded due to strong waves coming from the sea while the road is being undermined. Due to the direct impact of the waves, increased encroachment of salinity in the vegetable gardens along Jeshwang and Mile Seven are being experienced by women gardeners.As if that is no enough hazard, the continued burning of used vehicle tires in the area continues to endanger the ecosystem through pollution of the water resulting from toxic agents from burnt tires.
Given the varying facets and degrees of these destructive agents on our biodiversity, it should, therefore, be a worthy concern for all stakeholders, most particularly those vested with the mandate and authority to enforce laws and regulations to protect our environment from such harmful practices. I, therefore, first of all implore the perpetrators of this irresponsible act to desist from the practice and further alert the authorities of the National Environment Agency, ministry of natural resources and environment, department of parks and wildlife, as well as the Gambia Tourism Board, to the dangers that these actions pose on their respective vested interests.
However, I believe it is only proper for one to put one’s house in order before letting others do it for you. Hence, I will take this opportunity to equally implore the Alkali, MP and ward councilors of Bakau to not only make concerted efforts to put an immediate stop to this act, but also devise plans of replenishing the depleted areas. I further expect the authorities concern and other stakeholders to issue directives to deter the continued plundering of this vital vegetation cover.
Lamin S.M. Bojang