By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
The Secretary General of the Association of Gambian Sailors (AGS),
Abdou Sanyang, has said that they are ready to work but that
government needs to revisit its policies and regulations to make it
easy for fishing trawlers to operate and create employment for
Gambians.Mr. Sanyang made this remark in an interview at their office in
Banjul on Thursday, 22 October 2015, in response to the calls being
made by some members of his association for the president to address
their plight, which was published in the Foroyaa issue of yesterday.
The AGS Secretary General said the new regulations on the licensing of
industrial fishing trawlers which want to apply for a permit to fish
in Gambian waters as well the condition for them to sell 50% of their
catch are issues that need to be revisited.
He suggested that the Government should consult with stakeholders,
including his association, as they are on the ground and directly
affected by the regulations.
Mr. Sanyang said the government should consider enhancing the fishing
industry by having proper structures in place such as good wharfs for
trawlers with big drafts to be able to anchor, good storage
facilities, good marketing strategies and market outlets. He said to
have such policies and infrastructure in place would make the fishing
industry lucrative and create employment opportunities for young
people in the Gambia.
The sailors’ association SG cited some of the challenges facing the
industry as the port charges which, he said, is too expensive as well
as the high cost of fuel.
“Port charges and fuel cost for trawlers are cheaper in the other
countries in the sub-region than in the Gambia,” said Mr. Sanyang.
The AGS SG indicated the need for sailors to have basic training,
adding that his association has been trying to address this need
for its members.
“We do engage the Navy, Fire and Rescue Services and the Gambia Red
Cross to train our members to learn skills of the trade in order to
become professional sailors. All the expenses relating to this
training are borne by the association,” said the AGS SG.
He added that there is even an outstanding graduation with Navy which
they still could not organise due to financial constraints.
“As an organisation, we’re facing serious financial constraints and if
this trend is to continue, we’ll end up closing down our office and
join the unemployed in streets,” revealed the AGS SG. He added “We
work hard to establish an office and we pay our own rent as well as
operational costs such as electricity and giving fares to our members
who are coming all the way from the Kombos. We pay at least D20, 000
every month as rent and D15, 000 for electricity as well as other
miscellaneous expenses. It is now six months since we haven’t got any
contracts for our members and the money we use to support all these
commitments comes from the deductions on the wages and salaries of the
sailors and not from the government.”
He said it is the Fisheries Act which establishes the AGS which
started operating in 1995 but that since then they have not received
any subvention from the government.
He concluded that they are also requesting for an audience with the
president to discuss the issue of enhancing the fishing industry and
to have more trawlers for young people to work.
Mr. Alieu Secka, the Deputy Secretary General of AGS, was also present.
Foroyaa will contact the ministry of fisheries to enquire how
government can support the fishing industry to create more employment
opportunities and development of the sector.
By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH