By: Kebba AF Touray
James F Gomez, the Fisheries Minister said an estimated 50,000 of the country’s population will directly benefit from a 20 solar water project provided by the Japanese government to the Gambia government through the Japan International Corporation Agency (JAICA).
He said this at the Assembly on Wednesday 1ST July 2020, while responding to A question raised by member for Kantora, Billay G Tunkara, on the Ministry’s plan to address water crisis in the communities.
Minster Gomez disclosed that the facilities will use borehole as water source for sustainable supply of safe and quality drinking water in the rural areas, such as Kantora, Jaba Kunda, Madina Barry among others.
He said: “It is estimated that 50,000 of the country’s population will directly benefit from this support. The grant agreement between the governments of Gambia and Japan will be signed in April. Unfortunately, if not for COVID-19 by now we would have started drilling, but we are hoping that immediately after the rains, we will start drilling”.
Asked by Member for Foni Brefet Sunkary Badjie why the fishing agreement between Dakar and Banjul has not been tabled before the assembly for ratification, Minister Gomez replied that the fishing agreement between the two states is not new as per the Senegalo-Gambia Fishing agreement.
He said: “It started since the first republic and was ratified by parliament at the time. Subsequent years only witnessed reviews and renewals of the governing protocol. In December 2014, the Gambia unilaterally revoked it without proper procedure, until March 2017 when it was restored prior to the National Assembly elections”.
Hon. Badgie asked “Could the Minister Inform the Assembly whether during the period in question, there was assessment on the impact of the said agreement”.
Minister Gomez replied that since they renewed the agreement, they conduct annual assessment to identify the obstacles as per the agreement to see whether the said agreement is working and assumed that there was an assessment during the first and second republics.
Suwaibou Touray asked whether the Minister is aware of claims that certain fishing vessels enter the country’s creeks and cast their nets and catch any type and size of fish and if so, what is the Ministry doing to put the practice to a complete halt, as the menace can deplete fish spices in these breeding grounds.
He said the Ministry is aware of the claim and has sent its officials to verify the claims, but found out that the claims were false.
He added: ‘The Ministry “is aware of the significance of the creek, mangroves, environment in the generation of these stocks and we will not relent in protecting the fragile environment. Furthermore, industrial fishing is regulated and fishing vessels and trawlers are not allowed to fish in the shores, because that is an infringement of the Fisheries Regulation 2008”.