Environment minister warns violators of environmental laws

Environment minister warns violators of environmental laws

By Cherno Omar Bobb

Honourable Rohey John Manjang, minister for Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources (MECCNAR) has warned that her ministry in consultation with the Ministry of Lands, Religious Affairs and Local Government will take severe action against anyone who is found wanting of violating environmental laws in the country.

Hon. Manjang made the declaration on Sunday at Brikamanding community in Kiang West, Lower River Region as her ministry embarks on its quarterly trek to visit various project intervention sites.

The primary objective of the trip is to gain first-hand insight into the ongoing projects and initiatives undertaken by the ministry to address issues across the regions.

She stated that it is like people do not care about managing our environment especially the trees, noting that ring leaders of violators the law will be punished harshly.

She further warned that key among them are the alkalolu and they will not take things lightly but rather will enforce the full force of the law.

She highlighted that felling trees without permission is illegal in the country and further warned alkalolu that they expect them to be faultless.

She pointed out Brikanding’s alkalo as an example who violated the law by felling a tree and selling it as well as putting up charcoal ovens.

She said they will engage with the ministry responsible for alkalolu and see what action to take against him.

The environment minister called for the need to review the forestry laws, saying one cannot fell a tree and sell it for over fifty thousand dalasis but be fined ten thousand dalasi by a court. “That means it is a lucrative business for them,” she said.

According to her, alkalolu are expected to be government’s key frontliners in executing law but will therefore be severely dealt with if they violate the law.

“We have to make sure the law is executed to the letter. If we have to go for violators under their bed we will do so to ensure people know that laws are in place and no one is above them,” she further said.

She highlighted that the country belongs to all of us and we have to make sure we have a sustainable environment that is fit for today’s generation and the future.

“We cannot take excuses anymore,” she also said, adding that government forests should be better managed than community forests because citizens are the government.

The minister also observed that herdsmen who roam from country to country to feed their animals are becoming more destructive to the environment.

“We understand that there is an ECOWAS Protocol on free movement of goods and services but it has to be within the limits of the country’s laws. You cannot leave your country and come to another country and do not want to respect the rules and regulations of that country. It is unacceptable,” she said while calling on all alkalolu and citizens to keep a close eye on the herdsmen.

She said: “where they violate the laws of the country let us not spare them. Our citizens are being pursued by laws in other countries why would we not when people violate our laws,” She observed that climate change is at its worst and The Gambia is not only feeling the pinch but getting the toll of it.

She therefore called for collective efforts to mitigate the impact of climate change.

However, she highlighted the success stories registered by Sutusinjang community in Foni where the community is doing well with its forest. She commended them for a job well done and urged others to follow in their footsteps, noting that it is all of us together who can build the country.

COB/15/05/24

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