By Isatou B. Ceesay
Njie Cham, proprietor of Kunta Kinteh Lodge in Juffureh/Albreda, has said that businesses like his needed good roads and electricity supply in order to sustain such businesses in the north Bank Region.
Njie told The Daily News in an interview that Gambians in the rural areas are ready to venture into businesses of all types but the government is not helping them by providing the needed infrastructures and facilities.
“It is difficult for us to sustain our businesses in the absence of good roads, electricity and with limited financial resources,” he said.
Njie who has been in the business of tourism all his life said the Kunta Kinteh Lodge is the most popular lodging for tourists in the Upper Niumi district, and one of the most popular lodges in the North Bank Region. “This is one of the lodges where tourists and other visitors have a feeling of a hotel outside Banjul” he said
However, Njie said the lack of electricity is largely affecting such eco-tourism in the country. Electricity is by way of a generator which is only available at the lodge from 9a.m to 2p.m. and from 7p.m. to 1a.m. Tourists spend a good part of the night in darkness.
“We operate on generator and solar lighting, and this is not sustainable,” Njie said. “I am calling on government and the Gambian Tourism Board to come to our aid.”
Njie has been in the hospitality industry for 44 years. In 1975 to 1989 he established a restaurant in Bakau before moving to the Senegambia area.
While at Senegambia, Njie said he met the then Director of Arts and Culture Baba Ceesay who informed him that they do have guests visiting James Island but they do not have accommodation.
“It was then that I decided to expand my business, I bought a plot of land in Juffureh/Albreda, build a lodge and name it after Kunta Kinteh,” he said. “I also opened a Bar and Restaurant about 200 meters from the lodge and named it Raising Sun.”
Njie, who started with eight staff at the lodge, now employs twelve people. However, he said this year’s tourism season has not be as good as he expected.
“Since the start of the tourism season, we are only picking up after seven months, and the season is already closing,” he said.
By Isatou B. Ceesay