Omar Malmo Sambou

By: Foday Manneh 

A Gambian environmentalist, Omar Malmo Sambou, has described the government’s allocation of the ITC premises and Monkey Park in Bijilo to the US Embassy in Banjul as ‘shameful and disgusting.

“The decision to destroy, relocate, and increase human activities within the remainder of the Monkey Park area is shameful, insensitive, and disgusting,” Sambou said.

The Gambia government, through the office of the Attorney General on Wednesday, 26 October 2022, confirmed the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement to sell and allocate the site to the government of the USA for the construction of a permanent embassy building in The Gambia.

A government statement said it was assuring the public that the Bijilo Forest Park will not be affected in the course of the exercise, as experts and environmentalists will be working to ensure all environmental concerns are addressed.

However, Sambou, a lecturer at the University of The Gambia (UTG), says the intended construction will further destroy the park “just as the government faked the building of the conference center with propaganda that destroyed the best part of the park.”

“Environmental protection and conservation of ecologically-sensitive and fragile wildlife ecologies in the country is not a priority for the government,” he declared.

Sambou described the act as the “selling of a great legacy of Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara” and added that it “is not to be blamed on population growth, but rather on the desire for money and poor environmental governance.”

According to the environmentalist, the value of such nature reserve parks is that they “provide ecosystem services and spiritual healing to tourists and visitors.”

Meanwhile, while confirming the purchase of the area, the US Embassy in Banjul maintained that the “intended project for the space is consistent with the United States’ global environmental diplomacy pledge.”

“We will construct a green embassy facility and collaborate with local environmental experts on the best ways to preserve the natural surroundings,” a news release said.

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