Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category


August 27, 2017

Author: Tha Scribbler Bah

By Tha Scribbler Bah

According to The Standard Newspaper issue of Wednesday, 23rd August, 2017, dozens of drivers and their apprentices were charged by a magistrate court in Kanifing for taking part in a sit down strike in protest of the reduction of transport fares by the government.

Mr President, even though I personally did not agree with the drivers [I was affected by the sit down strike], I was happy that our democracy has come of age to an extent that drivers could mount a sit down strike in protest of a grievance [genuine or not].

In a genuine democracy, citizens should have the right to protest against any grievance without let or hindrance. This is what democracy entails. What message is the government sending if protesters are charged just because they matched in the streets to show that they are not happy with a particular decision?

In a democracy, you cannot pick and choose. Democracy comes in a package: the good, the bad, and the ugly. If we want to enjoy the good fruits of democracy, we have to be prepared to bear the bad and the ugly.

The drivers were simply showing that they were not happy with the reduction of fares [whether they are justified or not] is irrelevant here. The truth is that our constitution grants them the right to strike. This is worth understanding.

We have a nascent democracy and we must nurture it. Divergent views are to be welcomed, not stifled. The action of arresting and charging the drivers and their apprentices, in my opinion, will set a bad precedent. In the future, even if the rights of other Gambians are violated, they may not have the courage to manifest their displeasure. This is dangerous and this attitude should be nipped in the bud immediately.

The world is watching us and as such, we must ensure that the rights of the citizenry are always protected. This is what we refer to as the Rule of Law. A democracy seeks to protect the rights of the majority – the ordinary person – it may not always be smooth, but we have to work towards granting everyone their rights.

Drop the charges and free the drivers and their apprentices immediately.

Have a Good Day Mr President….

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen


August 25, 2017

Author: Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

By Abdoukarim Sanneh, London, U.K

Setting rules and regulations under any system of government yields a level playing field for economic growth and social development. In the context of sustainable development, economic growth means environmental protection. The rules in the dynamics of market economy are that business activities should be managed in such a way to minimise their environmental impact. Regulation requires a legislative framework and water laws are known from most societies in both developed and developing countries.

With the emerging space of Gambia’s new democratic politics, Environmental issues are become a major topical debate in both the National Assembly, the media and wider society. Today, there is a growing awareness of issues such as deforestation, desertification, climate change and global warming and its impact of livelihood diversification especially in agrarian economy like the Gambia. On the legislative front a lot of work is done in the past of the PPP Government to developed the country’s environmental legislation such as National Environment Management Act 1994, Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticide Control and Management Act 1994 but not much is done since then about Water Resource Management, water industry and abstraction, ambient air quality etc.

 In many part of West Africa, the governments are taking a stronger position on issues such as water pollution, waste disposal, energy and climate change. The term water quality which is the theme of this article, is generally used to describe water that exists in the natural environment or is used either as industrial process or as a potable supply (Jones, 2000). Water quality can be affected by affluent which the case in Gunjur Golden Leaf Factory Pollution incidence and this may influence its biological oxygen demand or biochemical oxygen demand.

Gambia has not yet put in place a standardised water sample benchmark or regime to determine water pollution incidence. Quantifying and qualifying pollution a pollutant requires scientific procedures to determine biochemical after the discharge to waste material into the water body and this is known as biological oxygen demand. Biological oxygen demand is the amount of dissolved oxygen need by aerobic biological organism to break organic material present in a given water sample at certain temperature over specific time period. Effluent quality describes water which is discharged to the environment following its use in the form of process (Jones, 2000). The properties of effluent therefore can have a considerable impact on water quality affecting surface waters, groundwater and sea.

Access to safe drinking water is a determinant to basic fundamental human rights. Regulation of the water environment and protection of individual rights are both found essential in the common good, and there are best appreciated from historical perspective, because legislation reflects the imperatives of the changing economy and population. Water is vital to human life and, as such, legal measures should be in place to prevent it from anthropogenic pollution. Pollution control is essential and without it, the water which we extract our drinking water, manufacture our food and drink will be unsuitable for usage both for domestic, industrial and agricultural purpose.

Gambia National Environment Agency need to learn from the Golden Leaf Gunjur Pollution incidence and put in place a strong and effective legislation to control water pollution offences. For example, in United Kingdom both Water Resource Act 1991and Environment Act 1995 clearly stated that it is an offence to cause or knowingly permit affluent or other polluting matter to enter into water course. Water resources in our country comes under the protection and management of National Environment Agency. Under the National Environment Management Act 1994 the agency has to enforcement powers when a criminal offence has been committed and also to prosecute polluter in matters relating to environmental crimes. Water resource management does not only stop at the enactment of legislation but requires sound management principles, public education and change of attitudes for water utilisation.

Water plays an important part in the economy this was the reason why United Nation recognised 2005-2015 water for life decades. Water is an asset which critically need to be safeguarded. In the Gambia since after independence not much is done to improve urban sewerage infrastructure. Untreated urban Sewerage waste discharge in our rivers contributes significantly to water pollution in the country. Wastewater pumps into rivers in all sewerage treatment sites in Greater Banjul areas biochemical oxygen demand level for discharge into the river. With Water Resource Act, the National Environment Agency will set of standard bench mark and discharge consent order and failure to meet that can lead to fine or prosecution. Sewerage waste is a major contributor to phosphate and nitrogenous waste into our rivers. The effect of these substance on water ecology is concentration of heavy metals which are toxic to invertebrate species, can pass into the food chain and also eutrophication. Apart that nitrate in drinking water has linked to condition known as blue baby syndrome in which haemoglobin in the blood which carries or transport oxygen around our body cannot perform its function.

With future prospects industrial development, it is likely high that number of water pollution incidence will rise and much need to be done to enact effective legislation to control water pollution. Pollution of any nature is part of the realities of our civilisation due to consumer culture, leading to unsustainable pattern of consumption and production of resources. As the nation’s economy grows, the impact of pollution and degradation of resources becomes part of the realities.


August 21, 2017

PRIVATE Office of The President
State House
THE GAMBIA _____________________________________________________________________________

21 August, 2017


President Barrow launches the National Security Council

Fajara, 21 August 2017-President Adama Barrow today launched a 7 member National Security Council (NSC) at a ceremony held at his office.

President Barrow urged the Council members to work together and complement their efforts. He emphasized the unity of purposed amongst the members in serving one government for a strong, safe and secure nation. The Gambian leader said with coordination and corporation, the different units of the armed and security forces could overcome potential from being real threats, nationally and globally to guarantee the security of all Gambians. President Barrow urged the various security units to take up their responsibilities to protect the country. “Let us through our Gambia Police Force and related services enforce our laws and deter the criminals. Let us through our State Intelligence Service based on informed analysis, provide advice to policy makers to enable them make informed policy options, take decisions and enhance strategic interventions.”

President Barrow underscored the importance of having structures in place and said he had confidence in the team to provide him with proper advise to make informed decisions on security matters. He further linked the importance of peace and security to socio-economic development.

CDS in his remarks thanked President Barrow for the confidence bestowed on them and congratulated his colleagues. He said the National Security Council would provide oversight advise and guide the President to execute their functions at a time when faced with security challenges. He said the council would fill the vacuum in the 3 levels of the security structure in maintaining peace and security and lay the foundation for Socio-economic development. He pledged that they would provide candid security advise and analysis. He enjoined his colleagues to work as a team to promote peace and development.

The members of the NSC are minister of Interior, Mai Ahmed Fatty, Inspector General of Police, Landing Kinteh, Chief of Defense Staff, Lieutenant General Masaneh Kinteh, Director of State Intelligent Service, Ousman Sowe Navy Commander, Momodou Madani Senghore Brigadier General, Mamat Cham and Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defense, Assan Tangara.

The ceremony was witnessed by the Speaker of the National Assemblly, Honorable Maraim Jack – Denton, Secretary General Dawda Fadera, Foreign Affairs Minister, Honourable Ousainou Darbo and other senior officials.



August 8, 2017

Author: Tha Scribbler Bah

It’s been months since your government through the minister for the Interior, Mr Mai Ahmad Fatty, announced the discontinuation of the issuance of the national documents, ID Cards and Passports. This has had some serious consequences on many folks in this country. For instance, one goes to a bank and is unable to withdraw any money because the ID card is expired. Or, one goes to a hospital and cannot enjoy the privilege of being a Gambian so one has to pay the fee foreigners are supposed to pay. There are many others to this effect.

Mr President, the public does not really know the reason[s] behind the discontinuation of the issuance of the national documents. The saying that many non Gambians were given these documents, or that some people have the ability to produce fake ID cards is not reason enough to stop issuing them to genuine Gambians. Why can’t the government find a way to produce ID cards which cannot be forged? Why can’t there be a mark which will differentiate between the fake and genuine one? There has to be way of doing it which doesn’t include denying genuine Gambians their right to obtain the national documents.

It is also said that the previous government signed an agreement with a foreign company for the issuing of biometric ID cards and biometric passports. It is said that in this contract, the government of the Gambia gains only D500 out of the D3000+ that passport applicants pay. I do not know whether this is true or not, but if it is, then it is ridiculous and that the government should terminate it forthwith. Certainly, there are Gambians who have the expertise to produce such documents. There is no reason why we should allow a foreign company to take away our hard earned money when our people can do it and the money remain in our country.

While we are talking about the national identity card, I want to suggest that we combine the ID card, the voter’s card and social security number in one. Let us find a way of making all these into one card. This has a lot of benefits for the country and will solve many problems for us.

Besides, the issue if the ID card expiring after five years should be revisited. Why don’t we have an ID which does not expire, or, at least let it last for a period if ten years. This will reduce the burden on ordinary citizens to be running around looking for ID cards every now and then.

The national documents are too important to be discontinued for this long. Find a way of surmounting this problem as soon as possible.

Tha Scribbler Bah

A Concerned Citizen


August 8, 2017

Author: Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

By Abdoukarim Sanneh, London U.K

The United Kingdom Government Commissioned Stern Review on the Economic of Climate Change and Development in 2006 stated that people will feel the impact of climate most strongly through changes of water around the world and its seasonal and annual variability. Stern review recognised that water is essential resource for life and a requirement for good health and sanitation, and it’s a critical input for almost all production and essential for sustainable growth and poverty reduction.

The Gambia is situated in the Sahel Region of West Africa and its rainfall is generated by West African Monsoon system with spatial variability while the countries vegetative cover is Savannah type with shrubs and grass under storeys and, mangrove cover on the western half of the riverine flood plains. The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa and the River Gambia which is a transboundary River Basin is a dominate feature of the country’s political geography. According to Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Information System on Water and Agriculture Irrigation in Africa Survey 2005, the Gambia lies in the sahelian agro-climate and its landscape geomorphological unit may be distinguished as upland and lowland and its climate is characterised by rainy season from June to October and dry season from November to May and the dry season is characterised by hot dry wind blowing southwards from Sahara desert which bring sandstorms.

Water Resources of the Gambia can be defined as the country’s naturally occurring surface and ground water, the chemical, physical and biological characteristics of which does not deter its exploitation for human use. For many years, with international development agendas rallying around sustainable management of water resources, these visions shape Government of The Gambia policy in pursuing the development of the nation’s water resources to secure greater access to safe drinking water for its growing urban and rural population. Painfully, Gambia’s surface and groundwater resources are directly or indirectly affected by climate viability and climate change which continues to constraint or national vision for water and food security. These constraints have also impacted on the socio-economic status of mostly women farmers.

The gender division of agricultural farmlands is such that women farmers dominate lowland areas for small scale vegetable production and rice crop production along the river valley while, cash crop farming in the upland areas is dominantly carried by men-folks. The level of risks associated with climate variability and climate change on water resources is likely to have negative consequences such as household food security, economic and losses of productive assets on this socio economic groups. The Gambia River for many years has been the focus of Government of The Gambia to utilise significant portions of the country’s land resources in tidal and mechanical irrigation. Societies can divert water from the rivers and underground aquifers to meet their urban, industrial or food needs but the process can happen only to a limit which river basin cannot perform its important functions and can be refereed to as a closed basin (Falkenmark and Molden, 2008).

No studies been carried out examining the driving forces (some of which are avoidable while others are unavoidable such as population growth, poor management, climate and vagaries of weather) to determine whether the Gambia River Basin is still an open, whether it can be considered as a close river basin. Currently the basin is a target for proposed Organisation of Gambia River Basin Countries (OMVG) hydropower and irrigation development to meet the region’s chronic energy poverty and food self sufficiency. Studies have identified Sambangalou in Senegal and Keleta in Guinea as potential dam sites and an interconnection transmission circuit linking the two dam to the electric grid of four countries of the organisation (AfDB, 2008). Many of the driving forces towards river basin closure are difficult to avoid because there is a strong justification for water development to generate income and employment, food production to increase food security. Climate change to a certain degree is also unavoidable and will continue to influence future stream flows (Falkenmark and Molden, 2008).

The main source of Gambia’s drinking water for its growing urban and rural population is extracted from its ground water resources. Water resources are inextricably linked with climate and the current dynamics of anthropogenic climate change is reported to have serious implications for water resources and management and development (Riebsame et al, 1995). With efforts to provide adequate water supply, the country is confronted with current challenges such as demographic pressure and rapid urbanisation, and changes in land use patterns which are all impacting on the underground hydrology. In densely populated Greater Banjul, Kombo and its coastal areas, the supply of water is already straining to meet demand and economic growth and, in addition, water supply is also sensitive to seasonal rainfall distribution, global warming and heat waves (JarJu, 2008). Groundwater recharge is corrected with rainfall, which with other factors also resulted an increase or decrease in the level of underground water table.

The drilling of private boreholes in all over the country need some form of regulation. The Department of Water Resources and National Environment Agency should come some form of Water Industry Act to regulate maelstroms of private boreholes in very part of the country especially within the Greater Banjul and Kombo areas. Increasing demand for extraction for public and private supply in recent years has led to consequential changes in ground water level and quality. In some areas along the coast and the river estuary further salt water intrusion has changed the taste of drinking water. The demand for water resources along the coastal areas in the Gambia will continue to increase with abstraction while the rate of recharge will decrease due to climate related factors.


Falkenmark, M & Molden, D (2008). Wake up Realities of River Basin Clouse. Water Resources Development, Vol. 24, No. 2, 211-215 June 2008


FAO (2005). FAO’s Information on water and Agriculture: Irrigation in Africa in Figures-AQUASTAT Survey Available:- regionnd/gambia/gambia.cp.pdf


Jarju, P.O. (2009). National Report on Adaptation of Water Resources in the Gambia, Department of Water Resources: The Gambia. Available:- national issues water.pdf

Riebsame, W.E etal, (1995). Complex River Basins. In K.M, Strzepelc and J.B.Smiths (Eds), Cambridge University Press, Cambridge: United Kingdom pp57-91.


August 2, 2017

Author: Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

By Abdoukarim Sanneh, London

We love our mobile phones and according to GSMA Intelligence report 2015 mobile industry in Sub Saharan Africa continues to scale rapidly, reaching 367 million subscribers. Accounting firm Deloitte and the GSM Associations in econometric modelling studies on the availability and use of mobile phone service indicated that Mobile Phone in Africa have improved communication, social inclusion, economic activity and productivity in sectors such as agriculture, health and education. Given that the use of mobile phone comes with growth in the economic advancement, there are also latent effects on the environment that need putting in place regulatory procedures for the instillations of mobile phone masks in densely populated neighbours to reduce or mitigate the impact on the people and environment.

During my recent visit to the Gambia and Senegal I observed that there are telecommunication masts everywhere. In United Kingdom and Many European Union Countries there have been lot of debate and protest about instillation of Mobile/ telecommunication infrastructure because United Kingdom Town and Country Planning laws and regulations is decentralised at Local Government level and it is subjected to  development permit order, public rights to information and democratic decision making through public participation. Under the European Union Directives because of Public protest about the environmental and health impact of erecting telecommunication masts and base stations especially in densely populated areas are erecting mobile telecommunication mast can be subjected Environmental Impact Assessment.

Under EU Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA Directive 85/337/EEC and amended Directive 97/11/EC) telecommunication masts falls under Annex I or Annex II project. According to this directive, the developer before the instillation of the telecommunication masts should conduct Environmental Impact Study and part of which public consultation. Environmental Impact Assessment is not science and it is does not involved scientific experimentation design. It is a project management tool and a process of information gathering in order to determine or forecast what the likelihood of the project will have on the people and their environment. It involves standard procedures such as scoping, baseline study, public consultation etc.

I don’t know what regulatory regimes are in place to control the instillation of this equipment in both the two countries. For example in the Gambia, do the National Environment Agency been the advisory body of the Gambia Government on environmental matters knows the effect of telecommunication masts on the people’s and their health? Do they have put in place any environmental standard procedures as an environmental management tool which telecommunications providers such as Africell, Comium, QCell and Gamcell should follow especially in the area of environmental impact assessment before the establishment of more telecommunication mast infrastructures in all part of the country? From Banjul, Serekunda, Brufut, Sukuta, Bijilo, Brikama, Bakau and other part of the country, tall masts it becomes part of the visual scenery. In my conversation in a telecommunication engineer (name withheld) it comes clear to that mobile telephone operators/providers do not need to obtain the necessary environmental impact assessment before erecting these telecommunication masts.

Mobile phone transmission masts are characteristics of waves of electromagnetic fields associated with high voltage flow that can cause electromagnetic radiation due to high exposure electromagnetic frequency. Exposure to electromagnetic radiation has lot of health implications. A survey study conducted in France using questionnaire conducted by Santini. R et al (2002) on investigation on the health of people living near mobile telephone mast relay station found a variety of self-reported symptoms for people that are living near a these telecommunication masts in both rural and urban areas. Different epidemiological research indicated that people living in places where telecommunication masts are erected are vulnerable to disorder like cancer, lung diseases, sleep disturbance and even physical disabilities but according to World Health Organisation there is no current scientific proofs of health hazards associated with telecommunication masts.

In the event of scientific uncertainty about the health impact of telecommunication mast, the Gambia National Environment Agency should put in place the precautionary principles and cautionary policies that regulate maelstrom of Telecommunication masts especially in densely urban areas. Conditioning Mobile Telephone Companies/Operators before erecting telecommunication mast to conducted environmental impact assessment are one method of strict application of precautionary principles. Tall mast has becomes part of the environment and seemingly every mobile telephone operators had put its own masts without no planning regulation or public consultation. There should be effective dialogue between National Environment Agency, Communities and Mobile Telephone Companies in decision on where masts should be located. Similarly, policies of co-locating antennas owned by all the operators on a single mast and where possible, locating the masts away from schools is used in United Kingdom as a prudent approach that the industry mainly take in response to public concern. We love our mobile phone but I hope the government put in place some form of regulation to mitigate and reduce human exposure electromagnetic radiation generate from these telecommunication mast. There are telecommunication masts everywhere and needs some form of regulation.



August 2, 2017


Author: Dr Muhammed Teks Tekanyi, USA

Dr Muhammed Teks Tekanyi, USA


“Alongside providing people with safe drinking water and sanitation, my government, through the Ministry of Health, is scaling up its efforts to improve our health delivery systems, especially for women and children.

As a first step, we have obtained additional assets to support primary health care provision in the country. This includes 800 pedal bicycles and 29 motorbikes for Village Health Workers and Community Health Nurses across the country’s seven health regions.

I am pleased to report that the World Bank has approved US$7 million in additional funding for the Maternal and Child Health as well as the Nutrition Result Project. My government has also submitted a proposal to the EU to enhance food security.  We would welcome their support to help us treat acute malnutrition and prevent all forms of under-nutrition.

With more than 95 percent coverage, we are also getting support from the Global Alliance for Vaccine Initiative (GAVI) to help us consolidate our strong track record on child immunizations. This project, estimated at US$4.6 million will help strengthen and enhance our immunization systems.” President Barrow, July 24, 2017.

A review of the president’s deliberation on health would conclude that it was entirely based on primary healthcare which fortunately has been the most active component of the Gambian health delivery systems since the first republic with both the secondary and tertiary remaining as strugglers.

How do we then as a nation improve the functions of the two other important components of the health system?

At a personal level and in consideration of the small size of our population, I will suggest an emulation of the National health Service (NHS) UK and in this, primary health care should be made free or next to free in order to make it readily available as a measure of preventing disease burden while maintaining it completely at Health Centre level.

Furthermore, all the regional hospitals including Bundung Maternal and child (formerly Jammeh Foundation) hospital be upgraded into proper general hospitals to provide affordable secondary care for each administrative region with Polyclinic serving as a secondary care service centre for Banjul.

And the Edward Francis Small Teaching Hospital and Serrekunda General Hospital can then be given full autonomy to be managed by their own independent administrations and as well upgraded as proper and well equipped tertiary hospitals for Medical & Surgical and Maternal & Child Care respectively.

However, the care at the tertiary level should be purely advanced specialist paid for services in order to meet their maintenance cost and most be made adequate and readily available by the respective hospitals.

This will help decongest both hospitals in terms of capacity needs and as well reduce the burden related to demand overriding supply which has always been the cause of deficit in services rendered at the tertiary level.

Moreover, to prevent the stagnation of the health personal (doctors and nurses) particularly doctors, the Medical and Dental council can restructure the internship program for graduates of the medical school into two phases; a one year 3 monthly rotation at the teaching hospitals and a year rotation at the regional hospitals.

This can come with three benefiting results;

1 – it will reduce the expenditure relating to increased staff capacity of the teaching hospitals thus creating funds for the improvement of other areas of the hospitals.

2 – it will improve performance by creating competition for those doctors/nurses that may want to return to the tertiary hospitals at the end of their regional hospital rotations.

3 – it will broaden and enrich the experience of those posted doctors and nurses.

How can we improve the human resource  capacity to maintain the functionality of these systems?

It is commendable to say that the country has trained many doctors, nurses, public health officers and other cadres. However, in health, training without specialisation is synonymous to building a multipurpose house without furniture.

Hence the need to graduate the government’s concentration from undergraduate to postgraduate training with diversification of specialty for both doctors and nurses while creating attractive incentives for those abroad to return and contribute in the strengthening of the existing systems.

And to avoid brain drain, flexible bonds with as well incentives should be attached to postgraduate training grants which can be gained through bilateral and multilateral cooperations with countries like Nigeria, Turkey, India, Senegal, China etc thus instead of building a $50M conference centre or a $48M forensic lab for example, these funds can be used to train 10 -15 specialists whom in 5years upon their return can save the government more than the amount spent on their training.

It is therefore paramount for the government to work on redirecting its foreign aid policy from monetary to human resource development which will thus prevent the drainage of funds into unknown wells and as well reduce corruption.

Dr Muhammed Teks Tekanyi, USA