Environmentalists Demand More Gov’t Action On Kamalo Wedlands Issue

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Environmental activists and other stakeholders demanded more action from the Gambia government after the Kamalo Wetlands were demarcated and allocated to private businesses.

They want the state to immediately launch an independent investigation into the matter and prosecute anyone found wanting.

The call came soon after the government issued a press release announcing the suspension of all development activities in the wetland areas and promised to launch an investigation into land allocation in these areas.

In the press release dated September 5, 2023, the Ministry of Lands announced the launching of “a review exercise in the Kamalo Proper and Kamalo Extension Industrial Layouts situated along the Banjul-Serekunda Highway.”

It added that “effective immediately, a halt in all development activities in these designated areas is being enforced.”

The release said a multi-stakeholder task force was mandated “to conduct a thorough review of all land allocations in Kamalo Proper and Kamalo Extension Industrial Layouts.”

“Key objectives of the exercise include “assessing the fairness of allocation procedures, ensuring transparency in processes, and aligning practices with existing laws and policies,” it went on.

It urged all allottees to submit all documents regarding their allocation to the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Lands before September 8, 2023.

Meanwhile, leading Gambian environmentalists call on the government to revoke all land allocations within the Kamalo Wedlands.

They said the Wetlands are designated RAMSAR-protected zones, which should have been restricted areas and not earmarked for any purpose other than preserving them.

Dr. Ahmed Manjang, a Gambian environmentalist, welcomes the Gambian public, putting pressure on the government to halt any development in the protected areas.

He said a mere government press release is insufficient and that the Kamalo Wedlands is an internationally protected area, which the government should safeguard as the primary duty-bearer.

“Government should not only stop at suspending all development at the site but also ensure that a thorough investigation is launched into the whole saga.

“Government should also ensure that all those mangroves destroyed be restored by those who did the destruction without delay,” Dr. Manjang told TAT.

Demba Baldeh, a US-based Gambian environmentalist, was also unhappy that the government allowed the RAMSAR-protection area to be bulldozed and demarcated for land allocation.

He, too, urged the government to take drastic action against anyone involved in destroying the protected area.

“Mor suspending the works at the designated RAMSAR-protect area is not enough; we expect the government to go further and prosecute anyone involved in the allocation.

“Government should ensure that anyone found wanting, in their investigation, is fully brought to book and prosecuted for their crimes,” Baldeh declared.

Baldeh welcomed the decision to investigate as a first step to rectifying poor judgment results by allocating land in the Wetlands.

He said the Tambi Wetland is not for residential buildings or industrial development projects but specifically made a protected area that all Gambians cherish.

Momodou Lamin Gassama, the Director of Parks and Wildlife, also applauded the Ministry of Lands’s decision to suspend all development activities at Karmalo, which is part of the Tambi Wetlands.

He said such works threaten the nation’s valued marine species, which should be protected for posterity.

“This decision to suspend all works at the Karmalo proper and annex is very welcoming, and we thank the Ministry for taking this bold step.

“It should be noted that from the roadside to the River Gambia is all part of the Tambi Wetlands; also part of the RAMSAR-protected area – meaning that the site is part of the international Wetlands protected areas and no physical development should take place at the site,” Gassama emphasized.

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