By Tukulor Sey
In recognition of World Ocean Day, environmental activists in Gunjur, Kombo South came together and embarked on a mission to clean up our beaches. The irony is that the fisheries company that shares the burden of litter on Gunjur beaches [Gold Lead] is nowhere to be found!
When we fought to end dictatorship, many had visions of Gambia being a place where EACH AND EVERY ONE OF US would salvage what’s left of our resources, but also fix broken systems Yahya Jammeh’s self-serving regime. Gunjur is one of those communities – remember the sand mining issue?
Today, I AM SAD because my mother’s ancestral village remains UNCHANGED and UNPROTECTED by a new government AND MP who promised CHANGE. At the onset of our campaign against Golden Lead’s abuse of our resources, we THOUGHT we had garnered support from the Ministry of Trade, only to have the rug pulled by them writing a letter OVERRIDING the citation from the National Environmental Agency. Since then, THE EXTREMELY VOCAL NEA has also gone silent. The Department of Water Recourses promised to conduct testing of the ocean waters, but 3 weeks later, they too, have gone missing. Besides, do they even have the resources to do a thorough environmental testing of those waters? TO MAKE MATTERS WORSE, on May 29, 2017, I called the Minister of Environment Mr. Lamin Dibba but when I asked why his office allowed the Ministry of Trade to override his decision [Golden Lead ceasing operations due to not having a waste treatment system], HE TOLD ME “let’s talk after prayers [Taraweeh] – I will call you”. That was 10 days ago and I never got a call back!
President Adama Barrow wrote a press release condemning the actions of Golden Lead Company and I was VERY HOPEFUL that with the President’s intervention, this issue will finally come to an end. That was 1 week ago and to-date, and there are no positive developments because Gunjur’s Bolong Fenyo now HAS ALGEA caking the beautiful shores we were known for, and fish continues to wash up ashore. THE GUNJUR ENVIRONMENTAL TASK FORCE WROTE A LETTER to Golden Lead, asking them to clean up debris from their land to avoiding having it go into the ocean – and they have not responded. Is it because they feel protected by government officials and could care less?
The National Assembly member for Kombo South Kebba K. Barrow (KKB) hails from Gunjur but to date, he too, has remains silent. The irony is, he’s been around this issue for more than a year and although the adage “he who feels it knows it”, he too, has remained mum.
At the end, it appears those we voted into office have abandoned this beautiful coastal village and tourism has disappeared because of the stench, litter that has created an environmental disaster without an end in sight. But be rest assured that the beautiful sons and daughters of Gunjur shall prevail because we want future generations to live in a healthy environment.