Apr 7, 2008, 9:29 AM
The annual anti-bushfire campaign in the West Coast Region this year began last Friday in the Fonis.
The campaign committee in the region comprises the department of forestry, the Gambia Police Force, the Fire and Rescue Services, St. Joseph Family Farm, district chiefs, and the office of the Governor of Brikama.
This year’s campaign was taken to people in their local communities to discuss with them the dangers of bushfire, deforestation, illegal logging and other environmental hazards associated with bushfires.
Speaking at a meeting held at Chewal in Foni Jarrol, the chairman of the Taskforce Committee, Alhagie Bakary Dembo Badjie, who is also the chief of Foni Bondali, gave a brief history of the anti-bushfire campaign committee in the region.
Chaired by the Governor, the taskforce was formed in 2005 by the various units of stakeholders in the region.
Chief Badjie asserted that the committee deemed it fit to meet the communities to sensitize them about the effects of bushfire and other environmental hazards.
He also used the occasion to commend the Gambia Police Force and other security apparatus for their support to the campaign.
“This shows that protecting our environment is not one man’s show but instead a collective responsibility,” he noted.
Also speaking at the gathering, the chief of Foni Jarrol, Alhagie Kutubo Sanyang, stressed the importance of forest to the community and urged people of Foni Jarrol to respect the law of the land and protect the forest in “the interest of our future generation”.
Chief Sanyang said he was satisfied with the anti-bushfire committee for taking the lead role in sensitizing the masses about the effect of bushfires.
For his part, Malick Sarr, a senior fire and rescue services personnel attached to Kalagi, spoke at length on the dangers of fires. He reminded the people of the old adage: “Fire is a good servant but a bad master.”
He therefore warned people to be very mindful when dealing with fire, as well as advised the elders to safely keep their matches in their houses away from the reach of minors.
Speaking at the various meetings in Foni Jarrol, the Kalagi Station officer, Saibo Touray, used the opportunity to warn against drug deal in the communities.
In his remarks on the occasion, Babuccar Badjie, a senior Revenue Collector at the forestry department attached to the West Coast Region, also spoke on the danger of bushfire and fire outbreaks.
Mr Badjie also expressed dissatisfaction over the way and manner the country’s forests are been used.
In his official opening of the anti-bushfire campaign, the director of Forestry, Abdoulie Sanneh, hailed the security members of the country for their participation in the weeklong sensation campaign.
“The participation of various stakeholders shows that Gambians have a high concern for the protection of the forest,” he said. “This sensitiation is a reminder to the local communities in particular to be careful of bushfires.”
He also encouraged every Gambian to join the anti-bushfire campaign in sensitising the masses of the country, particularly the youth.
“All what is needed,” he notes, “is the cooperation of the general public in the protection of our natural resources.”
He used the occasion to thank the district chiefs, the alkalolou and the village development committees for their cooperation.