Jul 14, 2008, 6:43 AM
The government last week announced that it has re-imposed the ban on the re-export of wood from The Gambia indefinitely.
It justified its action on the basis that some people are destroying the forest by cutting the small trees.
However, we feel that instead of suspending the re-export trade indefinitely, only those involved in violating the country’s forest laws should be penalised.
The government’s press release which announced the ban did state that only containers at the ports waiting for shipment are not affected.
But what about the plight of those investors who spent millions of dalasis on purchasing timber, and are yet to load the wood into containers and to move them to the ports?
As said before in this and other columns, the wood re-export trade creates employment opportunities for many Gambian youths.
While many youths are in the business, the bulk of them are engaged in the loading of the containers and trucks with wood.
So, if this indefinite suspension takes effect, how and where are we going to create alternative jobs for these youths?
Also, what plans are there to avoid losses by those Gambians and non-Gambians who invested their monies in to the business, and were set to sell wood to the exporters.
Considering the huge economic loss the indefinite ban will bring to the country, particularly, we are calling on the authorities to convene a stakeholders’ forum on the matter.
Pending that, we further suggest that the President’s recent pronouncement of allowing wood re-exports to continue until December be upheld.
Indeed, the decision to go ahead with the indefinite suspension would bring more severe consequences for all involved.
Therefore, we advise that the matter be studied carefully to avoid aggravating the country’s unemployment crisis.