The vice president and minister of Women's affairs, Her Excellency Aja Dr Isatou Njie-Saidy Wednesday inaugurated the US$3.5M Bakoteh Fish Market as part of activities marking The Gambia's 48th Independence Anniversary. The fish market was co-funded by the Government of The Gambia, Arab Development Bank (ADB) and the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA).
Inaugurating the fish market, VP Njie-Saidy assured that the fisheries sector will continue to be accorded high priority in The Gambia government's development agenda, due to the sector's immense potential for ensuring household food security and promoting the health of the Gambian population. She also told the gathering that the fisheries sector contributes an estimated 4.2% to Gambia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). "The increase in export earnings attributable to fisheries products is largely due to the efforts of women fish processors and exporters," she acknowledged.
VP Njie-Saidy further observed that the fish market will be a source of employment for many Gambians, especially women who, she said, will converge there on a daily basis to make a living for themselves and their families. She then called on the Ministry of Fisheries and Water Resources and the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) to work together to ensure that the facility is properly maintained. She also reminded the young people that the availability of the market is another opportunity for gainful employment.
Mass Axi Gai, the minister of Fisheries and Water Resources, said the fish market will enhance the handling of fish and fisheries products in a proper and hygienic way. He said the government of The Gambia has over the years given substantial support to the fisheries sector, which has also seen the sector developing and benefitting the people. While calling on the management and beneficiaries of the facility to ensure it is maximally utilised, Minister Gai equally thanked the government and its co-funders for the project.
Leila Mokadem, the representative of the African Development Bank (ADB), said the project is one of several projects the bank has funded in The Gambia. She expressed hope that the project will increase the annual income of the fisher folk, and also serve as a source of employment for many Gambians, particularly young people. While assuring The Gambia governmentof the ADB's continued support, Mokadem also called on the beneficiaries of the market to ensure that they make best use of it.
The interim chairman of KMC, Dawda Sey, assured the government and the funders of the project of the Council's continued support in maintaining the fish market for the benefit of all.