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Stakeholders' meet on Marine Pollution Bills

Oct 12, 2010, 1:00 PM | Article By: Lamin B. Darboe

Stakeholders within the maritime sector, fisheries, the legal profession, National Assembly members, among others, are currently meeting at the Paradise Suites Hotel for a three-day forum on the Merchant Shipping Marine Pollution Bills.

The forum, among others, seeks to give stakeholders within the maritime sector the opportunity to make informed contributions to the bill, the drafting of which was recently completed by two consultants fielded to the Gambia by the International Maritime Organisation (IMO).

It is also expected that the outcome of the forum, which is organised by the Gambia Maritime Administration (GMA) in collaboration with the International Maritime Organisation, will improve the quality of the bills, and help the Gambia have one of the most comprehensive and modern regimes, thus improving its waterways and protection of the environment from marine pollution. 

The forum was officially declared opened by Dr Njogu L Bah Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service, who is currently overseeing the ministry of works, construction and infrastructure.

He said looking into the geographical location of the Gambia, with its river being one of the finest waterways on the African continent, the country is well placed to derive maximum benefits from maritime transport through both financial and inland water craft.

According to Dr. Bah, one of the key conditions for the maximum utilisation of our transport and related maritime activities is to ensure that Gambian waterways are safe and secured, and protected from marine pollution in accordance with international requirements and standards.

"It was against this background and upon the request of the Government of the Gambia that the IMO from 1993 fielded numerous missions to assist in delivering and strengthening the flag and port state capacity and capability of the Gambia," he said, adding that the country's collaborative effort resulted in the establishment of the GMA in 2006 as an autonomous and independent body that is to regulate, co-ordinate and develop maritime activities.

The bills when enacted and enforced assiduously will enhance the image and reputation of the Gambia in the international and maritime community, he added.

Noting that the Gambia Maritime Administration cannot do it all alone, Secretary General Bah emphasised the need for people to act collectively, and have a common approach, especially in the face of mounting incidents of piracy and robbery at sea, and the illegal exploitation of the Gambia's maritime resources.

"Safety and security are very vital ingredients for peace and stability which, in turn, are sine quo non for sustained development. It is within this context that the maritime stakeholders in the Gambia are invited to make informed contributions to the legislation process of the two draft bills, which will enrich the quality of the documents.

In conclusion, he expressed conviction that after the enactment of the bills by the National Assembly and assented to by the President of the Republic, Gambia will have one of the most comprehensive and modern regimes in the world."