Lamin Lodge closed down
Thursday, February 09, 2012
The Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) last Monday temporally closed
down Lamin Lodge ‘for failing to regularise its’ status and for not meeting the
set standards in structure and service delivery’. GTB was set up by an Act of the National Assembly as a
statutory body to develop, regulate and promote the tourism industry in The
Gambia inline with the Vision 2020.
As an executing arm of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture,
responsible for the licensing and regulation of tourism enterprises and
providing advice to potential investors, GTB took the decision to close down
Lamin Lodge after conducting series of inspections to the site during which it
noticed a serious deterioration in the status of its service delivery. When contacted to establish the reason(s) for the move taken
by the Board to close down the lodge, Abubacarr Camara, a staff of the Quality
Control Unit of the GTB said the decision was inline with the GTB Act, which
empowers them to close any tourism facility/establishment for non-compliance.
According to him, the decision was taken after series of
inspections by GTB with consultation with the proprietor to regularise and
standardise the status of the Lodge -improve on the structure, ensure standard
and service delivery in order to provide the much needed service for the
tourists visiting the place.
His words: “We forwarded series of recommendations for them
to build on but each time we visit there, we find the place in the same
condition with nothing done to improve the status. This did not go well with us
and we then notified the Ministry about the situation because it is a very
popular place and many tourists like to go there. We also wrote to the
proprietor inviting him to a meeting at which he was represented by one
Jalamang Jallow and through his representative, we expressed our
dissatisfaction with the condition of the place, which we put to him.
all that, nothing has been done. So we decided to close it down temporally
until they comply and improve on their standard and know that we are very
serious with what we have asked them to do.” Camara vowed that GTB will not compromise with standard. He
said any tourism establishment that fails to meet the minimum set standard will
be dealt with accordingly.
He added: “And during our inspection we also realised that there are a lot of boat owners and some belonging to the Lamin Lodge without the Seaworthiness Certificate from The Gambia Maritime Agency (GMA) to certify that they can carry tourists into the waters.” Camara also disclosed that during their inspection of the Lodge, the team noticed that the captain of the boats at the Lodge did not also have the Captain Competency Certificate from GMA and the public liability insurance of the boat as well as the restaurant to do such business.
He further stated: “We have also realised that some local
boat owners taking tourists around have not got the required certificates to
cruise tourists at the same place. So we cannot compromise with the security of
tourists and by ensuring that, we have to act to make sure they put their house
in order first.”
He continued: “We are not happy to even close Lamin Lodge for even more than a day but it is unfortunate that we have to, to make sure that every tourist facility meets the required standard.” When contacted, the proprietor of Lamin Lodge, Peter Loosen said: “Yes, we are closed temporally based on certain requirements that we need to meet. But we are working very hard to regularise those standards and continue our normal business.”
Established in 1986, Lamin Lodge is a three-story wooden
construction on stilts, situated at the riverside of Lamin village, Kombo North
District West Coast Region. It is easily reachable from the airport and the
capital. It is basically a restaurant that offers an extended range of both
European and African dishes and serves the delicious mangrove oysters, freshly
picked from the river Gambia every morning. It also serves as point of
departure for many of GRE's excursions and can receive groups of up to 140
people. It is also an excellent base for hiking along the riverside
or in the surrounding gardens of Lamin village.
Besides, walking and boating on your own, one can also take part in one of the excursions with guidance.
Author: Musa Ndow