In a large meeting held in Faraba Banta village with Commissioners of the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC), the people of Kombo East District stressed that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for extra protection of their environment and other environments in the country, to guarantee people’s livelihoods. Hundreds of people attended the CRC meeting in Faraba Banta with the youth dominating. The people unanimouslyasserted in their contribution to the CRC, that the proposed new Constitution should make provision for all benefits derived from the environment to stay in the communities where it has been exploited from.
Almami Sanneh of Mandina-ba, said the environment should be protected and a percentage of the benefits derived therein, should be given back to the communities. Sanneh asserted that the issue of license to potential investors to mine within communities, should be critically addressed. “The issues of land allocation and issuance of license for mining, has led to chaos in our area. We feel that the environment should be protected and the Constitution should make provision to prohibit Government from issuing license to investors, without consulting the communities,” he said. Sanneh maintained that there is no decentralization in the country. “The natural resources in the country should be evenly distributed,” he said.
Modou Bojang, a resident of Faraba Banta said fishermen in the country should be empowered. He said the proposed new Constitution should make provision that before any license is given to a foreign vessel/trawler for fishing in Gambian waters, the National Assembly must first give their approval to it. “Our government is aware of the high rate of unemployment in the country particularly among the youthful age. Before issuing license to foreign investors, why is it not possible for the Government to invest in this sector by providing the citizenry with boats and vessels? Fishermen in the country compete with foreigners in the Gambia River. They over power us because they have bigger boats/vessels than us,” he said. He added that the proposed new Constitution should make provision against indiscriminate fishing in the country; that there is high level of indiscriminate fishing activities taking place in the River Gambia.
The villagers asserted that if Government wants peace to prevail in their communities, they should not take the issue of their environment lightly.
All speakers at the meeting expressed the way and manner Government issues license for mining in the country, and urged for greater caution.