By Tabora Bojang & Alagie Manneh
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment, Climate and Natural Resources Lamin Jawara, has said that the allocation of land from the Monkey Park for the construction of the International Conference Center was made by the former regime and imposed on the Ministry who could not refuse it at the time.
He said the rational was that the Gambia will use the center to host the 2019 conference of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.
”As a ministry at that time, we dare not say no to the decision; we had to accept it unwillingly. The NEA was summoned to do the assessment and at that time, we were informed that just a small portion of the park would be allocated for the ICC in addition to some portion of the ITC premises. We had to compromise with that and this was the time when the Chinese wanted to commence work but it coincided with the change of government and then noise started,” PS Jawara said at a press conference aimed at clarifying the issue which has generated a lot of debate mainly on social media.
He added: ”So to tell the Chinese at that point in time that they will be allocated a different place will probably delay the work and the conference is fast approaching. In fact at the same time, an allocation was made for the construction of a Five-Star hotel which we did everything possible to block.”
He added they however succeeded in getting the government to abandon plans to construct the hotel. “We are not creating any problem. As a Ministry all what we are trying is to undo the mistakes of the past. We are all confronted with problems that we inherited from the past,” he said.
Lamin N Dibba, the Minster of Environment, said The Gambia is very much aware of the relevance of the park and recognises its value towards protecting the environment and rolling back the specter of a warming planet.
”The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change UNFCC, United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification UNCCD and the Paris Agreement and these parks were already set up in our nationally determined contributions and are contributing for us to achieve that international obligations.
”Coming from 22 years of dictatorship and this is important because we need to know the context we are coming from everything cannot be achieved over night. We want to mainstream environment in development and we cannot mainstream environment in development if the constituent that, we are trying to advocate do not understand where we are going, so they must understand the basics of environment,” Minister Dibba concluded.