Monday, May 23, 2011

Gambia and World Affairs

  • Gambia boost up by new HIV/AIDS study 
  • Drivers dissatisfied by increase in transport fares
  • Gender Equality, a Cornerstone of Development 
  • World population to reach seven billion by October 31
  • USAID fund $2.5 million fisheries project in Gambia  
  •  Police officer testifies in Deutsch Man’s rape-charge
  •  Former Tour Guide says tourism officials need to be multilingual

Drivers dissatisfied by increase in transport fares
The President of the Westfield-Bakau Car Park Ebrima Saidykhan has lamented that the increase in transport fares is unsatisfactory to almost all drivers in the country.
This, he said is because after fares were increased, fuel prices were also increased and the few dalasi coins added to the previous fares has left them with multiple problems to solve with their clients.
“Fuel is increasing every time and it is always done during the night, in the following day you come to buy only to be told the fuel price has been increase. And if we insist that the fares be increased again we find it difficult to meet our expenditure,” Mr. Saidykhan said.
Speaking to The Voice Newspaper’s Roving Reporter in an interview on May 18, 2011 at Westfield, he also lamented the poor condition of the road from the Serrekunda West Football ground leading to the Westfield garage.
“We have a very bad road linking us to the Kairaba Avenue highway; going in and out of the car park is always a problem, and am appealing to the authorities to bail us out of this trouble,” he said.
“At Bakau, the car park we’ve been given is “very small” and we cannot even fit in there. The police do not allow us to pick clients on our way to the Cape Point turn table, and this is affecting us. We paid for our licenses to have money.”
In fact, he said they do not have a car park as they’ve just been allocated a street space along the highway, on people’s compound gates.  
He explained that they have had a series of quarrels with compound owners, who has continuously complained that we (drivers) are disturbing them and that we have to vacate the place.
According to him, the police and the Gambia Transport Union had to be involved in one of the quarrels with a compound owner before it could get out of hand. “We are still calling upon the concerned authorities to allocate us a better, wider and strategy point for a car park.
Though the Bakau Garage is small, he revealed that they are paying a price of D1250 as monthly dues to the Transport Union, and yet the Union did not make any efforts to help them solve their multiple problems.
He also revealed that drivers who found themselves in trouble and are not members of the Transport Union are not supported by the Union.
Borry Bojang, a taxi driver said their clients’ heap complains on them with blames that drivers are responsible for the fares increase, and in most cases failed to admit that it is as a result of fuel price increase.  
Increasing fares from D5-D7 is of no significance, he argued, noting that since fuel prices have been increases, they are not gaining anything from the fares increase. “This is even creating problems between us and the vehicle owners, they think we are making a lot of money and that is not the case,” he said. 
Mr. Malang Manneh is the former President of the Serrekunda-Tallinding Taxi Drivers Car Park at Serrekunda. He said the space allocated to them is very small, because the Car Park allocated to the Van Drivers was expanded and it affected greatly the Taxi Drivers own.
This added too many problems for us, in fact, it has reduced our earnings, he said.
“We are paying D250 every month as our dues but the Union cannot do anything for us. We do not even have sanitary facilities, not even a place to sit down and rest.”Source - The Voice

Gender Equality, a Cornerstone of Development
Gender equality is, first and foremost, a human right, women are entitled to live in dignity and in freedom from want and from fear, a statement from the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA said on May 12.
It added that empowering women is also an indispensable tool for advancing development and reducing poverty. Empowered women contribute to the health and productivity of whole families and communities and to improved prospects for the next generation.
The New York-based organisation said the importance of gender equality is underscored by its inclusion as one of the eight Millennium Development Goals. Gender equality is acknowledged as being a key to achieving the other seven goals.
However, it argued that yet discrimination against women and girls including gender-based violence, economic discrimination, reproductive health inequities, and harmful traditional practices remains the most pervasive and persistent form of inequality.
It lamented that women and girls bear enormous hardship during and after humanitarian emergencies, especially armed conflicts.
“For more than 30 years, the Fund has been in the forefront of advocating for women, promoting legal and policy reforms and gender-sensitive data collection, and supporting projects that improve women's health and expand their choices in life.Source -  The Voice

World population to reach seven billion by October 31
If the latest Report from the United Nations is anything to goby, the World Population will reach 7 billion by October 31, 2011, according to the 2010 Revision of the World Population Prospects, the official United Nations population projections prepared by the Population Division of the Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) said it is planning a series of activities to engage partners and the general public to underline the significance of this population milestone. The new study was released on May 12, 2011.
“A world of 7 billion is both a challenge and an opportunity,” said UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Babatunde Osotimehin.
“Globally, people are living longer, healthier lives and choosing to have smaller families. But reducing inequities and finding ways to ensure the well-being of people alive today – as well as the generations that follow – will require new ways of thinking and unprecedented global cooperation,” he said.
Dr. Osotimehin added: “The population projections underscore the urgent need to provide safe and effective family planning to the 215 million women who lack it. Small variations in fertility – when multiplied across countries and over time – make a world of difference. We must invest the resources to enable women and men to have the means to exercise their human right to determine the number and spacing of their children.”
According to him, the projections also remind us that it is vital to create opportunities for young people who constitute a majority in many of the least developed countries where much of the population increases are expected.
 “When young people can exercise their right to health, education and decent working conditions, they can improve the capacities of their nations to escape poverty,” he said.
He noted that the greater longevity projected for all regions, coupled with low fertility in many countries, means that many countries will be confronting the challenge of ageing populations. “We should plan in advance for the health care and social safety nets of the elderly at the same time we support the largest generation ever of youth,” he said.
UNFPA said it will kick off a series of activities related to the population milestone of 7 billion people on World Population Day, 11 July 2011. At that time, UNFPA and several partners, including National Geographic, will launch a social media campaign to engage individuals and groups on different issues related to a world of 7 billion.
These will include urbanization, women’s empowerment and environmental sustainability. It added: “UNFPA is also planning a 7-day countdown, starting on 24 October, United Nations Day, and leading up to the birth of the 7 billionth baby a week later. Events will culminate in the launch of this year’s The State of World Population report, which will analyze challenges and opportunities presented by a world of 7 billion.”Source -  The Voice

Gambia boost up by new HIV/AIDS study 
Various studies has since reveal that patients who start antiretroviral therapy (ART) earlier, respond better to treatment and are less likely to develop AIDS-related illnesses. However, a new study published a few days ago further revealed that there are 94 percent chances of patients who started taking ART earlier, could not transmit the virus.
“This is indeed very good news and a development with renewed hope,” the Director of National Aids Secretarial (NAS) in Banjul, The Gambia Mr. Alieu Jammeh said.
Speaking during an even marking the 28th International Candlelight Memorial, observed globally to honour those who died due to HIV/AIDS-related illnesses, Mr. Jammeh said: “If this recent study is anything to go by, The Gambia and some parts of the world will soon become HIV/AIDS free countries”.
The event held on 15th May, 2011 at the Buffer Zone, Tallinding in Greater Banjul was organised by Gambia Network of AIDS Support Societies (GAMNASS), under the theme “Touching Lives”.
Jammeh noted that community-based organisations worldwide uses the Day to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS-related illnesses; support those living with HIV and affected by its impact; and spur calls to action for greater awareness.
He also said of the new study, “I am convinced that with this development, it will thus inform NAS which will continue to work with partners to review the National HIV Policy and Guidelines so that we are inline with the international community”.
He said the many lives this initiative will save cannot be compared to any cost we may foresee and hence, the NAS would like to renew its resolve and commitment to urge all development partners to support them in-order to improve the fight against HIV/AIDS.
In 2000, United Nations Member States committed to achieving universal access to treatment, prevention, care and support by 2010. Though this has not been achieved, Mr. Jammeh said HIV treatment is working to slow down the epidemic.
The global target was reviewed and extended to 2015 and Mr. Jammeh said the Secretariat is aware of the progress registered so far towards achieving universal access to HIV Prevention, care and support by 2015.
“We know some of the shortfalls and since we are about to review our national policy, we will continue to work with all of you on the proposed new strategies to make it responsive to our needs.
I have the belief that this new research finding will help to improve the lives of people living with HIV, and hopefully will lead to a successful high level meeting.” Source -  The Voice

USAID fund $2.5 million fisheries project in Gambia
A fisheries project, Ba-Nafaa, aimed at supporting the Gambia Government to achieve its fisheries management and development objectives is being funded by the United States Agency International Development, USAID to the tune of more than two million dollars.
The Ba-Nafaa project is being implemented by the Gambia in partnership with the University of Rhode Island and the World Wide Fund (WWF). The grant funding is to implement the Ba-Nafaa Fisheries Project over a 5-year period, from 1st October 2009 to 30th September 2014.
During the opening of the Gambia sole fisheries Co-management planning workshop on May 17, 2011 in Banjul, the director of fisheries department Mr. Nfamara Dampha said the fishing industry (fisheries NGOs and the representatives of Fisher folk communities) are the primary beneficiaries of the Ba-Nafaa Project.
Mr. Dampha said in three workshops since January last year, they were able to address several important issues among which are the issues of fisheries co-management in the Gambia; the potential of the Gambia Sole Fishery to be the first in Sub-Saharan Africa to be certified by the Stewardship Council (MSC) for an ECO-LABEL.
This, he said will be an important achievement for The Gambia.
He said in march 2010, the second workshop reviewed local knowledge on Gambia sole that was compiled by the Ba-Nafaa project, the by-catch study and the mapping of the fishing and spawning grounds of sole fish, using a GPS.
It defined the roles and responsibilities of the Sole Management Committees that were established at fish landing sites and the participants thereafter elected a Sole Fishery Co-management Committee (NASCOM).
According to him, NASCOM is mandated to work with the Government of The Gambia and the fishing industry to ensure the sustainability of the sole fishery for increased social benefits for the people involved in the sole fishery value chain.
Mr. Dampha further stated that the 4th workshop (May 17, 2011) is meant to outline the process that led to the development of a draft co-management plan for the sole fishery; review and validate the co-management plan; while the final draft of the management plan will be submitted to Gambia Government for final review and approval. Source -  The Voice

Former Tour Guide says tourism officials need to be multilingual
A former Tour Guide has recognised the importance of tourism development, which he said crucial in the enhancement of economic growth of any country, especially developing-Gambia.
Mr. Muhammed Lamin Hydra, who has worked in the tourism industry (Bijilo Beach Hotel and Sun Beach Hotel) for 13 years, was speaking in an interview with this reporter at his residence in Bakau recently.
Once tourism is developed, the entire nation will enjoy, because there will be a reduction in the unemployment rate of the country, he said.
According to him, tourism development is important to the socio-economic development of The Gambia, however, he noted that there is a need to reduce of taxes, establish good accommodating hotels and also ensure that key players in the Tourism Department are linguists in order to be able to sell their ideals to the outside world.
For instance, he said if Gambia is charging tourists ten pounds per head for their landing fee and in countries like Egypt, Tanzania, and Kenya were tourism is very progressive are charging lower, then tourists are likely to spend their holidays not in The Gambia. 
Mr. Hydra, who is now a shop-owner at the Bakau Beach, said food and beverages also contributes a lot to the development of tourism. “Most of our food products are locally produced, but what would you expect a guest to say when a soft drink cost more than one pound,” he said, while lamenting the high prices of locally produced products.
He also stressed that managers of tourism assets in The Gambia should ensure that hotels and guests houses, bars and restaurants are renovated to improve their conditions if need be, to meet the standards.
“If you have to market your country’s tourism ideals, you need to be a linguist in order to reach a greater audience in your campaign to bring in more tourists into The Gambia,” he reiterated.Source -  The Voice

Police officer testifies in Deutsch Man’s rape-charge
In the criminal trial, the State versus Andre Van Roy, a Dutch national continued at the High Court in Banjul with the testimony of Hassan Marenah, a police officer attached to the Brusubi police station, Kombo north district.
Mr. Roy is charged with six counts: two on rape, one on defilement, two on seduction and indecent acts by tourist Contrary to Section 121, 127 (1), 38, and 12 of the Criminal Code Caps 10 Volume 3 Laws of The Gambia, Children’s Act 2005 and the Tourism Offence Act 2003 respectively.
However, on Monday 9th May, 2011, he pleaded not guilty to all the charges brought against him by the State Prosecutor M. Abdullah. Represented by Counsel Kebba Sanyang, he is being tried at the Special Criminal Division of the High Court before Justice Joseph Ikpala.
On May 17, 2011, Mr. Marenah, the 1st prosecution witness informed the Court that on 11th March 2011, he was instructed by Station Officer ASP M.I. Joof to obtain a cautionary statement from the accused person (Andre Van Roy).
Marenah said he invited an independent witness by the name of Jandeh Saine, the cautionary wording were read to the accused person in English to which the accused said he understood.
Marenah noted that the accused wrote his statement voluntarily and signed on it together with the independent witness and himself, as the obtainer of the statement. The witness was invited to take a look at the said statement, after which, he said he recognized the statement.
The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) M. Abdullah, who has been guiding the witness, applied to tender the statement as prosecution exhibit. This was accepted by the Court without an objection from the defence counsel and was marked as exhibit A. The trial continues. Source - The Voice

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