By: Kebba AF Touray

Hon. Foday NM Drammeh, member for Tumana constituency has said the work of the personnel of The Gambia Fire and Rescue Services is risky and that fire fighters are paid mediocre salaries.

He called on the relevant authorities to look into the matter and improve the salaries and working conditions of the country’s firefighters. He made these assertions during Friday’s adjournment debate at the Legislative House in Banjul.

He said these are the people who rescue people from well, toilets and at sea. He added that they use risky boats to rescue people at sea and they are sometimes trapped in fire and burnt to death.

“Their lives are not safe much more to save someone’s life and the job they are doing is risky, but looking at their salaries, they are very small with no motivation, despite rendering live saving services to the Gambian populace and are not entitled to risk allowances”, he stressed.

He emphasized that the fire fighters have low salaries with no promotion for a period of ten years unlike the Police Force or Army where a personnel is promoted to several ranks within the same period.

“I think the Interior Minister should look into the issues of the Gambia Fire and Rescue Services”, he said

On the issue of Child’s right, Hon. Drammeh averred that children are part and parcel of the country and the youth population of the country’s population comprises of 60 -65% of the population  of which these children are part of and that section 29 3 of the constitution, talks about how juvenile offenders should be treated. He said if one goes to the police stations, one would not find any confinement where these children should be kept when they are placed under lawful custody. He urged the Interior Minister to look into the matter and build new prison for the children, adding that they cannot share the same confinement with adults and are vulnerable to anything.

On forestry, he said when one talks about the forest, adding that the cutting down of trees, leads to desertification, but there are lot of forest destructive activities, among them is frequent occurrence of bush fires, which he said if not controlled can lead to lack of food for animals such as cattle, particularly in the dry season.

“The drivers of the country’s economy are agriculture and that bush fire affects agriculture because it leads to soil erosion, leaching of soil nutrients. Are we are aware that a lot of our wild animals are leaving this country for Senegal, because of frequent outbreak of bush fires in this country?” he said.

Giving statistics of bush fire occurrences in Tuamana and Kantora, he said from 2013 -2014, 550 hectares have been destroyed by bush fire; that 2014-2015, 1560 hectares have been destroyed; and in 2015 -2016, it has reduced to 335 hectares, which was due to the sensitization tour they embarked on with the regional authorities; that from 2016-2017 the menace increased from 335 hectares to 3998 hectares been destroyed, as no sensitization was conducted.

“I think it is high time your Ministry of Agriculture look into these issues, because agriculture is inseparable from forest, livestock to be able to diversify agriculture from crop production to livestock production. So if our forests are burnt every year, then there is no reason of diversification, because in URR good number of cattle are dying during the dry season, due mainly to lack of food as a result of bush fires”, he hammered home.

While commending one Haji Baniko Sisohoko for the humanitarian gesture he offered in pumping in 5 to 6 million dalasi in complementing government’s effort to provide health care services of the populace, he implored on the Health Ministry to follow suit to cater for the health needs of his constituency which has a population of 30,000-40,000 people and provide them with health centers. He also urged the Ministry of water to intervene and address the water problem affecting his constituency.

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