By Ndey Sowe
Rehabilitation exercise is ongoing at the Kerr Batch stone circles, a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage site in The Gambia.
The tourism minster together with stakeholders, signed the rehabilitation project worth D3.4 million to reshape the dilapidated site in Nianija District, Central River Region (CRR).
Hamat Bah, the Minister of Tourism and Culture embarked on a tour of tourism and culture facilities across the country in February 2020.
During the first nationwide tour in upcountry, minister Bah disclosed that: “NCAC received funds from the ministry towards the rehabilitation of the heritage sites in the country in order to preserve them and also to make them vibrant tourism recreation sites.”
On Thursday, 19th November, 2020, the aforesaid ministry again embarked on a nationwide tour to assess the state of progress and standard in all tourism and culture establishments and facilities so as to help carve out a strategy for the development of tourism and culture most especially in the upcountry.
“Kerr Batch and WASSU stone circles site are UNESCO world heritage sites since 2006, a part of selected heritage sites of interest to human kind in the world, which offers great potential in attracting visitors,” he said.
Kerr Batch is nine (9) meters aware from Njaga Bantang from the main road in CRR and is one of the isolated areas in the country, but with the rich and vibrant culture, which deserves to be preserved and protected in the site museum of posterity.
During the visit to the site, Minister Bah said after the completion of the project, NCAC will be able to hire additional staff to run the site and museum, and will offer job opportunities to the surrounding communities.
It was also observed at Kerr Batch stone circles site that the construction of the Museum awarded to GIGO Construction is ongoing and plans are on the way for a construction of a hotel at the site.
Hassoum Cessay, the Director for the National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC), said the significance of Kerr Batch stone circles goes beyond The Gambia and it is like a property to human kind.
The renowned Gambian historian added that the stone circles are found in various parts of The Gambia.
“We have nearly 300 stone circles sites; some are also across the border in Senegal. They are mysterious, I can say only between 2 and 5% of their significance is known to us, historians, and research is still going on to know the actual scene behind the stones,” he added.
He said all that they know is that they were burial sites.
Ebrima Njok and Batch Mbaye, both said the site is a very special place, saying at night there are lights all over.
They both said the site was used for burial and the people buried at the site are unknown. However, they believed that the people who were buried at the site were very tall.
During the visit at WASSU stone circles site in WASSU, Lamin Keita, the Alkalo and member of the community, shared his optimism that come next year, the site will be a vibrant tourists attraction site, and he hoped his community will benefit from it.
Minister Bah promised to maintain the site and its perimeter fence.