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NRA responds to querries over tree felling

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By Alagie Manneh

The National Roads Authority has justified its ongoing mass tree felling initiative across urban centres as a necessity and a protective course of action for motorists and other road users.

Environment activists and some leading political figures have said the act is destroying the country’s flora while undermining the national fight against climate change.

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Reacting to these criticisms, the NRA PRO, Ya Sainey Gaye, insisted that the exercise will  safeguard motorists and enhance road safety.

“It’s very important for us to protect lives and this is the reason why we are trimming and cutting down the trees,” she said.

She added that the trees being felled are interfering with the electricity grid and that poses a direct threat to the lives of motorists and road users. “You have to think of the lives of the people first,” she justified.

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Responding to claims that the Authority’s employees are always happy to engage in tree felling because of its profitability as they sell them, Ms Gaye countered said that is false. She said already a lot of trees are falling on the highway in KM and Banjul because the soil is saturated with water and the roots system can no longer hold.

“That’s why we feel it is causing potential risks of accidental felling which can be dangerous to road users. So, we have to think about our safety first. And no, none of our employees is benefitting from this exercise That is not the motive,” she said.

The environment minister, Rohey John Manjang, said she was “not aware” of the exercise , and therefore cannot respond to The Standard’s request for a comment on the issue.

But a source at the ministry said the environment minister has however frowned upon the exercise. “She is of the opinion that the NRA has no authority to be going around cutting down trees without consulting her ministry first through the Forestry Department, ” a source told The Standard.

Activist Kemo Fatty of Green-Up Gambia, condemned the undertaking, but added that it is not comparable to the environmental carnage being done in the southern parts of the country.

“The NRA should actually be encouraging more tree planting on road sides,” he said. The President of the Gambia Environmental Alliance, Momodou Inkeh Bah, said the Alliance has already assigned a taskforce to visit the NRA with a view to finding out the motive behind the tree cutting.

“The taskforce is meeting the NRA tomorrow,” he said, adding that ”the trees being fell are highly endangered trees. So, it’s a big disappointment, and a setback to our restoration efforts in The Gambia.”

The Mayor of KM, Talib Bensouda, in a Facebook post yesterday, called on the ministries of environment and works to act now and reprimand the NRA for its actions.

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