Green Up Gambia, a youth-led environment activists group have recently held a protest over the destruction of the Bijilo Monkey park during the launching of the national tree planting exercise.
The group, which consists of mainly young men and women, chanted with so much enthusiasm, ‘Save the monkey park; the monkeys have decided.”
Speaking at the protest, the director Green Up Gambia Kemo Fatty said his team is very disappointed and denounced the destruction of the park without any justification.
“We cannot stand and watch these horrible events go by, if this act is done some 50years ago we would not today be thinking of launching something.”
He said if every generation has to cut down few hectares for construction, “the next generation will not meet anything here.”
“I want to register our total condemnation of this act, we came here today to protest peacefully in solidarity with the monkeys whom we believe also deserve a better life. We must not allow foreign companies to come and make profit from our nature reserves to our own detriment,” he said.
He said the group believes that the destruction was an executive order, “that’s why we want to request an explanation from the executive. We believe it should not have been destroyed without it being properly vetted because it is a protected site.
“Are we now going behind the laws that we put in place? We have got copies of the EIA documents and United Nations signed all this on biodiversity; when we are back in our countries, what do we do? This is what we do? I cannot believe the fact that nothing can be done. We want this construction to be stopped and restoration of the place.”
Advocacy director for Green Up Gambia Omar Malmo Sambou said it is very sad to witness the planting of trees on the destroyed park.
“It is evident that this is one of the parks we have on the river bank even though since 1952, it has been protected; it has never been gazetted for this destruction to take place. That means government is involved in breaking the laws of the land by destroying this park that has been in existence for over six decades. What we are communicating to the authorities is that destroying a park like this is undone, unjustifiable beyond all doubts.
“In this country we only care about our jobs and maintaining our positions and not actually the real job that we are ought to be doing. What we need to do as a nation is to be honest to the nation and to be nationalist to work for the nation genuinely.”
“We say we have 22years of dictatorship but nobody in central government resigns because the former president was bad, the same things are continuing. We only had change of faces but not actually attitudes. This country cannot go to a level we want it to be if we don’t have a change of attitude, we are busy planting trees and others are busy destroying them just to build a conference center. Is that centre more important than this park?” he questioned.
Sambou said the government did not revive the project that was signed by the former regime instead they are trying to play a political propaganda in the minds of people.
He alleged that this government is continuing where dictator Jammeh stopped. “This is completely unacceptable, we voted for a change and a change has to be inclusive in all sectors.
“The environment sector is actually been polluted and we are all suffering, we cannot even control our waste more so coming to a place like this and destroying it. Destroying this park will mean a lot to our environment and our environmental management.”