By Madiba Singhateh
The Ministry of the Environment is said to have approved the export of forty containers of semi-processed timber out of the country.
The exportation of the forest resources came at a time when the Ministry is said to have intercepted thirty-eight containers of timber at the Banjul Port. The matter is said to be under investigation.
In an interview with this medium, the Minister of the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources Lamin Dibba said a statement from the Police indicate that the matter was not reported to them. He said the Police, SIS and the Army are all part of the investigating team and at this stage, they will not pre-empt the outcome of the investigations. He said when investigators are ready with the investigation, they will proceed with due process so that the culprit(s) will not feel that they have been unfairly treated. He added that the investigators are also investigating into a matter dealing with a container of charcoal.
The Minister in further clarifying the issue of the forty containers of semi-processed timber for exportation, said people have to understand that the containers of timber were processed in the country and the Company exporting them employed Gambians.
‘‘The next stage we are working on is to ensure that young people around the country get the right skills for Government to come in and support them set up their businesses from the skills they acquire,’’ he said.
When contacted to shed light on the issue, the Gambia Ports Authority’s (GPA) Public Relations Officer Momodou L Sayang confirmed that the containers intercepted by the Ministry of the Environment are stationed at the Ports. This reporter was taken to the location of the intercepted containers.
If readers can recall, the Minister of the Environment Lamin Dibba previously indicated during his meeting with members of the ‘‘All Forestry Platform’’ that over thirty-eight containers of timber were intercepted at the Banjul Port.
However, the Minister did not mention the type of timber in the containers that were intercepted.
It has been alleged that rosewood which is among the endangered species of the country’s fauna was the timber that was about to be exported in the intercepted containers.
Minister Dibba said timber in the intercepted containers, were from the National and Community Forest parks of the country. “I believed that most of the timber comes from our forest” he said.
Dibba further said that they have stiff laws regarding the cutting down of tress in the country and anyone found wanting or is found to be part of the illegal exportation of timber, will be brought before a Court of competent authority. “Alkalos, Chiefs, Governors and Regional Forestry Officers have no mandate to permit anybody to cut down trees,” he said.