The primary benefactor of the illegal timber trafficking from neighboring Senegal, Yahya Jammeh, has henceforth banned timber importation from Casamance, the Freedom Newspaper can reveal. Timber dealers received a warning from the State House last week that they should desist from importing timber from Casamance. Many dealers have been rendered jobless in view of the Jammeh decree.
A source, who reached us said his uncle used to earn his living through buying and selling timber from Casamance. Jammeh, he said, has banned timber logging in The Gambia.
Interestingly, dictator Jammeh has been the primary benefactor of the timber being illegally smuggled from Casamance. Jammeh usually export the trafficked timber from Casamance to Main Land China. Jammeh earns millions from the illegal Casamance timber logging, sources at the State House said. Jammeh owns timber mills in Kanilai, and elsewhere across the country. Has has people on his payroll who will cross the border to steal timber for him from Casamance, sources said.
The decision to ban timber logging (importation) came in the wake of Senegal’s move to tighten its borders with The Gambia. There is an irrefutable evidence gathered by the Senegalese authorities linking Jammeh to illegal exploitation of Senegal’s flora and fauna.
Gambia’s Information Minister Sheriff Bojang tells the AFP news agency that “the ban on the importation of logs into the country is being enforced” following a presidential decree on the topic last week.”
“The security personnel manning the borders are instructed not to allow any log to enter the country,” the decree read.
However ecologist Haidar El Ali, a former Senegalese environment minister who spearheads the movement to protect Casamance’s forests, said he thought the move was simply a short-term strategy by President Yahya Jammeh, the AFP reported.
“I think it’s a just a big charade in the run-up to the elections, where he is under a lot of pressure,” El Ali was quoted as saying by the AFP.
“He wanted to make a show because the farmers are complaining about the exhaustion of their soil,” a result of deforestation, the former environment minister said.
“(Jammeh) organised this trafficking and he has profited from it himself,” El Ali added, accusing the president of benefiting from the activities of WestWood, the only company authorised to export logs from the Gambia.
Chinese traders purchase timber from Gambians who source the wood from Senegal, often with the connivance of impoverished local populations in Casamance.
Exporting timber is illegal in Senegal, which surrounds Gambia’s narrow slither of territory in west Africa.