By Omar Bah
The Cape Point Environment Association and residents of Cape Point, Bakau, have raised serious concern over the encroachment and constructions being carried out in Cape Point area of the Tanbi Wetland eco-reserve.
In a letter addressed to the Minister of Justice shared with The Standard, a lawyer for the association, expressed dismay that apart from the wanton destruction of the fauna and flora, the encroachers are developing a land subjected to a freeze order by the Janneh Commission.
According to the residents, they are concerned that the “illegal” intrusion into the wetlands will destroy the environment which is a habitat and breeding ground for wildlife including birds and that it will lead to erosion.
“We want to bring to the attention of the attorney general that the land is also a gazetted reserved area and under the management of the NEA,” the residents pointed out in the letter written by lawyer Edrisa M Sissoho.
The Cape Point residents further alleged that notwithstanding the legal impediments to developing the said reserve area, the trespassers are acting with the active participation and connivance of the director of the Department of Parks & Wildlife.
Contacted, the director of Parks & Wildlife Management, Momodou L Kassama, said the land in question was never a subject of the Janneh Commission as it was not part of the Former President Jammeh’s listed properties.
He clarified that it is only part of the Tanbi Wetland near the Sting Corner area that is subjected to the Janneh Commission.
“We were never informed that the place in question is a subject of the Janneh Commission. This is why we allocated it to Lamin Bojang and Gibbi Ceesay for free and we have warned them that anything they may have to do there has to be ecologically friendly and that whenever the government needs the place, whatever they may construct there, will be removed,” he asserted.
He said the area is part of the Tanbi Wetland Complex reserved for eco-tourism purposes and that before it was given to the Bojang and Ceesay, “all necessary appraisals and certified requirements were met”.
The director further stated the area is under the jurisdiction of the Parks & Wildlife and that its development is facilitated by Parks & Wildlife and the NEA purely for eco-tourism development, adding that they did not collect “a single butut” from the developers. He also added that they are not allowed to allocate the area to any state developers.
“There was an environmental impact assessment before the land was allocated as required of all developments within ecological areas and there is no timeline given and any attempt to remove or stop construction in the area by the community should be based on tangible reasons and channeled through the Department of Parks & Wildlife,” he said.
However, one of the aggrieved Cape Point residents disputed Director Kassama’s assertions.
“Is there any evidence of the environment impact assessment? No resident of Cape Point was questioned on this matter. And I believe matters of ecotourism are under the Ministry of