By: Foday Manneh
The Gambia Environmental Alliance (GEA) and Sustainability Alliance (SAG) have condemned the Gambia government unequivocal for selling and allocating the Monkey Park in Bijilo to the United States Embassy in The Gambia.
The two environmental organizations issued press statements urging the government to rescind its decision to sell the said area.
On Wednesday, the Gambia government confirmed the sale and allocation of the park to the U.S. Embassy in Banjul for constructing a state-of-the-art Embassy in The Gambia.
“The Gambia Environmental Alliance registers its unreserved condemnation of any acquisition of any portion of the natural areas of the monkey park by unconventional means,” GEA said in a press statement.
GEA said in 2017, a portion of the park was allocated for constructing the Conference Center, which later destroyed a primary natural habitat for the monkeys and other wild animals in the area.
“This move to sell any portion of the monkey park is a direct affront of our strive towards protecting our remaining natural resources and putting the lives of our endangered species under serious threat,” GEA stressed in the media statement.
For Sustainability Alliance, this development’s impact on the tourism sector will be significant. “The obvious disturbance of the construction on the remainder of the park will have a huge impact on the nation’s tourism sector and local businesses around the area.”
The SAG added that the act is a betrayal to the first President of The Gambia, Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara, whose wisdom and leadership, The Gambia became the headquarters of WALIC.
“Destroying such a legacy for an American Embassy is unfortunate and disgraceful. Furthermore, selling the land close to the park is ecologically unacceptable.” SAG said.
Both organizations have renewed their commitments to protecting and restoring the beautiful flora and fauna of The Gambia.
Meanwhile, U.S.-based Gambian environmentalist Omar Saho has also raised concerns about allocating the said park to the U.S. Embassy.
He told Alkamba Times from his base in Seattle, Washington State: “The land in discussion is “Functionally linked” to the Bijilo Monkey Park. Any habitat loss would significantly impact the population dynamics of the Endangered Temminck’s Red Colobus Monkey, which uses the ITC complex to find its food.
” Developing the place without performing due Environmental and Social Impact Assessment will significantly affect the local tourism industry, Especially visitors who visit the country to observe the remaining wildlife species. Furthermore, the venue indirectly creates jobs for local youths who are self-employed as tourist guides within the hotel industry. Any restriction in access to the place will virtually shut down that opportunity for the children.”
According to the prominent environmentalist, ‘ The Gambia has many locations along the coastline where an embassy can be strategically built. The southern coast, for example, is an ideal location. I’m sure the U.S. Embassy will do a decent job in ensuring that any arrangements conform to acceptable environmental standards.’