By Sheikh AlkinkySanyang
The National Environment Agency, being the competent authority mandated by law to enforce the National Environment Management Act and its regulations, has embarked on an aggressive training for 40 of her environment inspectors posted across the country.
The training came on the heels of increasing complexity of environmental issues coupled with increasing challenges in enforcing the legal requirements, which requires continuous training and capacity development of the said inspectors.
As a result, NEA developed a comprehensive training manual for its environmental inspectors intended to provide technical and procedural guidance for inspections.
There are legal requirements against individuals and facilities that cause or may cause adverse effects to the environment and public health.
Both regulators and the regulated community need to fully abide and implement these legal requirements. Environmental compliance and enforcement are key elements in the implementation of the legal requirements to achieve the desired results.
Hence, environmental inspections and investigations are important tools in achieving compliance with environmental requirements.
By virtue of their unique competence in conducting inspections, enforcement and prosecution, a representative of the GPF training school and judiciary from Kanifing Magistrates’ Court were among the resource persons.
In his opening remarks on behalf of the executive director, Dodou Trawalley, NEA`s senior programme officer of Environment Quality, Muhammed J Jabang, revealed that many of the earth’s ecosystems are nearing critical tipping points of depletion or irreversible change, pushed by high population growth and economic development. He therefore called for the sustainable use of our natural resources.
He disclosed that environmental inspectors perform routine investigations, field visits to assure that all projects are compliant with environmental laws.
As a result, they are an essential component for protecting the health of both the land and the general public.
This job, he said, involves a familiarity with environmental regulations and instruments, as well as an ability to accurately record the compliance level of a particular site.
Outlining the terms of reference for environmental inspectors, Jabang pointed out that inspectors look through various cases including permits, licenses, and records to assure that everything has been done correctly and they must also remain informed and updated on the latest regulations relevant to their field.
According to Njagga Touray, manager of research and development, this Environmental Inspection and Investigation Training Manual is intended to provide technical and procedural guidance for environmental inspections in The Gambia.
“The Manual will guide environmental inspectors and environmental policy and legislation staff of the National Environment Agency when undertaking inspections and investigations.
“The manual introduces the subject of environmental inspections and explains the various types and levels of inspections.
The inspection process is also described in detail in this chapter right from the planning phase through to the actual on-site inspection and finally to the post-inspection phase.
The manual provides clear guidance notes for inspectors in the various stages of the inspection process.