ENVIRONMENT: Gunjur Environmentalists Cry Foul
GUNJUR ENVIRONMENTALISTS CRY FOUL By Alieu Mourinho Jabang
In the ongoing issue of a Fishmeal Processing Factory in Gunjur called the Golden Lead Import and Export Company, environmental activists are crying foul over the handling of the case by the government of The Gambia.
It would be recalled that The Gambia government has announced through the State House Director of Press that the government has reached an "out of court" settlement with Golden Lead Company following the filling of a law suit by the National Environment Agency (NEA) against the Golden Lead Company for breach of environmental laws.
Local and international Environmental Activists are crying foul over the "out of court" settlement between the government and Golden Lead. Below we reproduce opinions from activists:
"Ignoring the people of Gunjur in any settlement between the government and Golden Lead Factory will paralyse the goodwill drive of the government to finding amicable and lasting solution to the issues at hand. I decry the fact that the quest for money have to replaced the quest for our public health and environment" These were the words of Gunjur's Mr. Ebrima Janneh an environmental activist on his Facebook wall on the recently concluded government out of court settlement with the Embattled Golden Lead Factory in Gunjur.
In the view Mr.Janneh, the most fatal error for our government to do is to allow the citizens of Gunjur to suspect that they are putting the interests of a foreign company that flount our environmental rules above the people of Gunjur with genuine concern for their health and rapacious depletion of their environment. Stressing that the government should be clear that Gunjur people will ever be relentless to safeguarding the health of their dearest people and zealously guard their environment from exploitation. Gunjur, he said of recent is being degradingly, offensively and greedily exploitated against the supreme laws of our land. " Thus, it is beyond comprehension for our government to forged any settlement with Golden Lead Factory without involving the people of Gunjur," he cried. Mr. Janneh call on the governvment to reason with the people of Gunjur, listen to their concerns from the cross-section of Gunjur and made them part of the solution to the pending dispute. "The people of Gunjur were/are being disappointingly sideline in the Golden Lead Factory saga. I argue, that leads to the situation we are in today. How the government think they can amicably settled the Gunjur - Golden Lead Factory issues by elbowing the people of Gunjur out of any settlement is beyond comprehension," he queried.
According to the former Gunjur squad Rocky Mountain, they need investment in Gunjur but investors who will respect them and their surroundings without taking them for granted. "Golden Leaf Factory and/or any other company should operate responsibly, environmentally friendly, socially responsible and listen to the people of Gunjur not only a sub section but a cross section of our community," he said. In Mr. Janneh's own words, "living the people of Gunjur out of any settlement between the government and Golden Lead Factory is a fundamental negligence on the part of the government and a harbinger to even further escalation of the tension therein."
For his part Mr. Mori Jammeh in United States said "Gambia government's declaration today of an impending "Out of Court settlement" with the Golden Lead Company in Gunjur cannot go anywhere if the voices of Gunjur people are not heard". In the view of Mr . Jammeh,If you want to settle a case, you have to involve aggrieved parties. Jammeh was quick to add "So I hasten to ask besides the Gambia government, who was involved? We do not want any backroom deals though we were not surprised by this action." He alleged that some officials have been engaged in very dubious behaviors during this time . According to him "this so called agreement must not be consummated without the people of Gunjur and The Gunjur diaspora otherwise this matter will be indefinite festering problem and I can assure the government that we will fight this matter using all legal avenues in The Gambia and overseas." He called on the government to act responsibly by not listening to one side alone. One Musa Janneh also contributing on the Golden Lead Company vs Gunjur debacle said "from the beginning it was apparent The Gambia government does not care about her people .They sold the people of Gunjur . It is a shame , before today we know government was pressuring NEA to drop the charges , it is very irresponsible of this government to ignore the very people who they supposed to be helping." The former Gunjur Solid Defender alleged that "there's One politician trying to please one individual who sponsored her during her campaign . We hate it and we will see who will laugh last." Pa Lamin Jamneh alias Slopa J also wrote "Ain't trust this so call out of court settlement and why are they doing that now I smell something Dubious really.This might b an organise way to cover up the ass of Chinese company but we are watching." Omar Diamond Darboe a member of the Gunjur Village Development Committee (VDC) said he understood that the government's "so-called" settlement with Golden Lead company out of court order have nothing to do with their demand. He stressed that it is within the quarter of government. Dia called on his colleagues to still focus on their crusade for demanding their right which are as following conditions . "Remove the pipe from the sea. No environmental pollution. Land must belong to the community and should be rented to the factory. There must also be a proper environmental impact accessment and guarantee of tge protection of the aquatics and ecological system. The Golden Lead Company must also fulfil all their promises with the community in the form of writing. The community must have a share and should be given either monthly or yearly, and the company must be committed to their social and cooperate responsibilities."