By Muhammed Sailu Bah Young people who were operating beach bars for the tourists between Bijilo and Brufut on the Tourism Development Area (TDA) are calling on the authorities to reverse the recent decision that ordered for the demolition of their structures along the beach.This appeal is coming in the wake of the demolition exercise carried out on Saturday, 13 June 2015, by the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard), in close collaboration with the Department of Physical Planning under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, removing all the structures or beach bars in the said area. When this reporter visited the said area yesterday to find out how the exercise ended and what impact it has on the said operators, he was told that many young people who were self-employed have now been affected and rendered jobless by the demolition which razed their structures to the ground. The owners of the demolished structures were seen busy picking up the dismantled and broken pieces of wooden boards, planks, furniture, iron rods, etc. left strewn on the beach. Speaking to Alieu Jallow, one of the young men working in the demolished beach bars, he said this move by the authorities has now left him without a legitimate means of earning income to support himself and his family. Jallow said more than one hundred young people have been benefiting from beach bars through the income they earn as owners, workers or customers bringing in tourists. “Young people who are unemployed and do not want to engage in crime often come to the beach to earn a living through the services of the beach bars,” he said, adding “if the government had weighed the advantages and disadvantages before demolishing the bars they would not have done so as it does not serve the interest of many young people.” He revealed that more than 15 structures have been demolished and which include the White Vision Bar, Villagers’ Bar, Bambo, Ocean Blue, Pelican, Jamaican, Sibis, Taste of Ocean, to name a few. “All these beach bars are owned by young Gambians who are sponsored by their tourist friends to engage and earn income for doing a decent work,” he explained. Lamin Darboe, another worker, said “the government is trying to discourage young people from travelling to Europe through the ‘Back way’ (irregular migration) and yet they are preventing those who have decided to stay from doing work at home to earn a living. This is a contradiction.” Darboe said the beach bars have been playing a very important role in serving as rendezvous for prospective sponsors of individuals and communities needing help from philanthropists. “The scholarships for many students and the services and facilities benefiting numerous schools and communities have emanated from links developed by young people working in or frequenting beach bars,” he revealed. He said the incident has devastated many of them as their only source of earning is now denied them. “Most of us are dependables who are supporting large families at home as well as the education of our siblings and children,” he added. Basirou Bojang, a beach bar operator, said their operations are not only benefiting the young people working at the beach but also fruit sellers, including the women in the local markets who supply them the produce. “We are also contributing positively in sustaining the environment at the beach by planting trees, such as coconut trees, oranges and even flowers to beautify the place,” he added. According to Mr. Bojang, they were given a very short notice by the authorities and that there was no time for a dialogue to resolve the issue. “The demolition team did not even allow us to remove our materials and furniture which were destroyed in the exercise,” he said. He appealed to the government to help them as young people to continue with their businesses.]]>
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