By Alagie Manneh
A row between two key tourism stakeholders Bijilo Beach Hotel owner Ebrima Bojang and one Solomon Tamba over the construction of a beach bar on the sea front near Bijilo, hotel is still raging.
The site of the new beach bar is at the tail end of the road from the highway passing by the fence of Bijilo hotel whose owner, Ebrima Bojang, said the bar will obstruct passage and access to the sea for people and vehicular traffic when the need arises. He accused Mr Tamba of blocking the road and denying would- be users of the road from accessing the sea. He questioned how Mr Tamba, who claimed to have got permission since 2008, can still use that same permit to develop a place almost ten years later, given that such permits are time limited. He said the bar, when built, will mean that everyone intending to use the beach from the highway must pass through the bar even if you don’t want to.
However Mr Tamba claimed he was not the only one issued permit that long.
“A lot of people have been allocated land here within the TDA which is still idle with no development from many years ago,” he said.
He said he has no personal reason against Mr Bojang as a person but he thinks both of them have equal rights to development in the TDA. “I told him I am a Gambian like him and he should have first talked to me before letting the matter to escalate,” Tamba said.
Mr Tamba said beach bars are allowed on beachfronts normally at the end of access roads so that vehicles from inland will not drive into sea front while tourists are around. “This has been the policy and the reason why they give beach bars,” he said.
Mr Tamba denied he was illegally backed by his friends at Physical Planning to carry out the construction in breach of the Tourism Development Area policy.
The Standard contacted the Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board GTB Mr Abdoulie Hydara who confirmed his office’s attention has been drawn to the matter. He said their official position was for construction of the bar should stop until matters are cleared. “It is correct that permits for such projects are not given for periods longer than 18 months at a time and we have given instruction for the project to stop,” he said.
When told that the construction is still on, the GTB boss said he will send a technical team to the spot for verification. “Here we endeavour at all times to administer according to the law because the country is bigger than any individual ,”he noted.