Environ Minister vows to set ‘example’ of persons complicit in selling Manduar forest

Environ Minister vows to set ‘example’ of persons complicit in selling Manduar forest
Environ Minister vows to set ‘example’ of persons complicit in selling Manduar forest

Africa-Press – Gambia. Environment minister Rohey-John Manjang has vowed to “set an example” of all persons involved in the illegal encroachment and selling of lands in the protected community forest of Manduar which has been a subject of controversy between the youths and the community authorities.

Alleged illegal land sales in the Koto Bali Community Forest prompted several youths from Manduar to stage opposition against authorities leading to a skirmish.

Several youths were arrested, charged and arraigned but later released.

There were also allegations that certain influential personalities have purchased lands in the reserved forest.

Speaking at a government press conference at the Ministry of Information yesterday, Minister Manjang said the government remains unshaken in its strive to maintain the Manduar forest as a protected zone.

She said a multi stakeholder investigation has started this week and will come up with findings as to how the forest was allocated, who were the buyers and institutions that gave approval.

“There are a lot of issues that happened in the background. And I am working with the ministers of Defence, Interior, Information and Lands to make sure we crackdown on whatever action that happened in this case without due process. We understand that the selling of lands in this forest started in 2021. Unfortunately and to our surprise and disappointment, the Ministry has not been informed and I have not received any complaint from the community, the Forestry Department or any other stakeholder.

Although we have received an informal communication that the [Manduar] community had written to the Department of Forestry giving them complaints and seeking their support. But these are all things that will come up in the investigation to guide our next action. This forest is a gazetted forest and so whatever has been acquired or done aside from activities related to community forest management is illegal and null. And our next line of action will be dictated as to who was involved, what processes have they taken, and why. We are not going to take this lightly. We want to set an example and whoever is found wanting we will make sure the law takes its due course.”

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