Wednesday, October 4

Timber Dealers Doubts Gov’t Readiness to Implement Ban on Timber Trade

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By Kebba Ansu Manneh

Lamin Barrow, Chairman of Timber Dealers Association of The Gambia has said in an exclusive interview with The Voice newspaper that his association is doubtful about whether Gambia Government is now ready to implement a ban on the timber trade. He confirmed that from 2019 to date, the government has issued more than five (5) press releases banning the import and export of various types of timber in the country.

His reaction comes a few days after Government Spokesperson, Ebrima Sankareh renewed the announcement of the ban that has been in effect since the First Republic.

According to him, the Timber Dealers association of the Gambia wholeheartedly welcomed the renewal of the government’s position on the trade, noting that announcing the banning is one thing but implementing it is the most important thing that the government has consistently failed.

“I will be one of the happiest people in this country if the government can implement this embargo, it has announced accordingly.

“However, my question and doubt are whether it will happen because we have heard the announcement of embargoes for years and timber continued to go,” Chairman Timber Dealers expressed his doubts about the government embargo on timber trading.

He added: “My question is why government always makes press releases yet timber continues to leave the shores of this country? If the government really wants to put an embargo on timber trade it has to involve all stakeholders to participate and take their rightful position in implementing the embargo.”

Chairman Barrow emphasised that the position of the timber dealer’s association remains the same as far as the government embargo is concerned, there cannot be any proper implementation of the government ban on timber trade without the involvement of the stakeholders.

He revealed that after the closure of the Farato Timber Center his association approached the former Ministry of Environment with a proposal that will address the timber import and export trade once and for all. This proposal, he disclosed, will involve the Senegalese dealers who run the trade as well as their Gambian counterparts who buy from them.

The Timber Dealers Supremo added that their proposal was not given due consideration by the authorities, noting that any effort that does not involve the Senegalese dealers who normally bring these timbers to the entry points of the Gambia will fail woefully.

“As I’m speaking, I have been informed by some of my members that eight containers are been loaded at Brikama, this is just a few days after the government announced the embargo.

Reiterating their position, he said the government cannot implement any embargo without involving both Gambian and Senegalese stakeholders to help in the implementation without which “it will fail,”

According to him, most of the timbers entering the country are brought in by the Senegalese timber dealers before being sold out to their Gambian counterparts, while he dismissed the suggestions that it is the Gambian people who go to Senegal to cut their timbers and bring into the country for sale.

He added that some of these Senegalese timber fraudsters transport these timbers more than 100 kilometers away from their delivery points, and no Gambian timber dealer is insane to enter Senegalese territory to go and harvest their forest for more than 20kilometers or less.

Timber Dealers Association Chairman continued to observe that the Gambia government has rushed in its decision to announce the ban on timber trade, as the government should have put into consideration what is going to happen to the hundreds of containers packed at the ports and bound to leave the shores of the Gambia.

“I think the government has rushed in making this announcement because what it should have done first is to make a proper assessment of the ground. Imagine what is going to happen to all those containers packed at the ports and waiting for shipment, is the government going to seize them, are they going to burn them, what is going to happen to them is my question?” Chairman Barrow rhetorically asked.