By Yunus S Saliu
Taking into consideration the importance of Juffureh and Albreda as regards to the Gambia cultural heritage sites, the members of the Official Tour Guides Thursday urged the concerned authorities to reconstruct the collapsed Juffureh’s jetty in North Bank Region to make landing of boat easy and safe.
The members noted that the collapsed jetty is making berthing very difficult for boat or yacht at Juffureh and tourists sailing through river Gambia to visit this historical village of Juffureh and Albreda as well sail from the village to Kunta Kinteh Island are more getting uncomfortable with the situation, too.
This concern was raised before the National Centre for Arts and Culture during a training workshop organized by National Centre for Arts and Culture for member of the Official Tour Guides on genuine interpretation of the destination’s historical cultural sites in destination Gambia. The tour guides expressed their dismay over authorities’ lackadaisical approach on the jetty which has collapsed over four years ago without any action taking to reconstruct another one.
Juffureh and Albreda villages are one of the key places in the country’s cultural historical sites, it is the birthplace of the renowned Kunta Kinteh and also a place he was captured and moved to Kunta Kinteh Island (formerly known as James Island) before he was sent to Goree Island and finally to the new world’s plantations. Also, it is where Alex Hailey – the author of the popular book ‘Roots’ who all the way from United State of America traced back his root down to the village Juffureh and Albreda in North Bank Region (NBR).
in 2015 Director General of the Gambia Tourism Board (GTBoard) along side with the formal Director General of National Center for Arts and Culture (NCAC); formal Director General of Gambia Tourism and Hospitality Institute (GTHI) in collaboration with the Ministry of Works and Infrastructure and Gambia Ports Authority represented by their Director of Technical Services and Senior Pilot respectively paid a visit to the Juffureh’s jetty for assessment then it was almost sank. But since then till it finally collapsed and sunk no work or reconstruction carry out so far till date.
The T-end Juffureh jetty which is the link to the Juffureh and Albreda through river Gambia is very important in the region especially for the use of not only the citizens but the tourists that visit the village, as it houses one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Gambia. Also it is very critical to the tourism products, most especially the celebration of the International Roots Homecoming Festival.
Commenting on the collapsed T-end Juffureh jetty, Hassoum Ceesay, acting Director General of the National Centre for Arts and Culture affirmed the importance of the jetty to not only the two villages but to tourism and as well the cultural heritage sites in the communities.
“The issue of this jetty in the two villages is a multi-million dalasi project which all the stakeholders – NCAC, GTBoard, MoTC, Ports, Ministry of Works among others are responsible,” he disclosed.
Taking into consideration the Ministry of Tourism and Culture preparation towards the celebration of the International Roots Festival in 2020, he said the jetty is the link between the visitors and the island “as the country is preparing for the celebration of International Roots Homecoming Festival, the construction of the jetty is a big priority.”
DG Hassoum went on that there are more other products in Juffureh and Albreda which called for urgent attention of the reconstruction of the jetty, among these products, he named, are the Juffureh/Albreda Revamp Project – a project involved all institutions under the Ministry of Tourism and Culture; the Slavery Museum, San Domingo and among others.
In 2015, among the official that visited the jetty for assessment, Director of Technical Services from Ministry of Transport Works and Infrastructure confirmed that the landing part of the jetty (almost sank then) was totally failed structurally, and therefore declared it “no longer a suitable place for a landing purpose this is in regard to protection and safeguard of people from making serious accident.”