By: Kebba AF Touray
Environment Minister Lamin Dibba said Wednesday his Ministry was working on a project aimed at protecting Fort Bullen which was threatened by sea erosion.
Dibba was responding to National Assembly Member for Lower Niumi Matarr Jeng, who asked him to tell Parliament the plans the Environment Ministry has concerning shrinking areas in James Island and Fort Bullen in Barra.
Dibba lamented that coastal works are expensive and are executed through project works. He clarified that Fort Bullen and James Island, are not under the purview of his Ministry, but the Ministry of Tourism and Culture by virtue of their historical significance.
He said: “This also means that any effort towards the protection of the facilities should be led by the Tourism Ministry. Notwithstanding, my Ministry is currently working on a project and we have already submitted it to the Green Climate Fund called Sea Level Rise Protection of Social and Economic Assets which of course includes Fort Bullen”
“With regards to James Island, My Ministry will engage the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and the Ministry of Works. Considering the urgency of protecting the facility, I will also involve the NEA, to come up with basic protection design in consultation with the Works Ministry, which can be funded from our national resources as we look forward to a more permanent solution.”
He acknowledged the significance of Fort Bullen and James Island to the history of the Gambia and the tourism industry.
He was however quick to add that the problem facing these two important facilities are the natural low laying nature of the Gambia coastline. Dibba added the openness of the shoreline makes them vulnerable to erosion and the sea level rise is attributed to climate change.
Responding to a question posed by Wuli West Law Maker on whether the Environment Ministry has any comprehensive plan to deal with erosion,
Minister Dibba said a study was conducted in 2019 in highly eroded communities and they are looking at how to reassess those assessments taking into cognizance the fact that natural environmental issues are not static.