OPINION: Gunjur's Innate Connection to the Sea and Coastline
The Sea and Coastline in Gunjur is our heirloom that we are deeply and emotionally attached. This innate relationship to the sea goes far deeper than economics. The sea delights and inspires us – hearing it, smelling it in the air, playing in it, walking next to it, swimming and fishing in it. Our protein supplements flow from the sea and help us build and repair inter alia; our tissues, make our enzymes, hormones, bones, muscles, skins, blood etc., denoting our holistic connection to the sea. When we are hot because of the pitiless heat of the summer sun, it is the pervading breeze of the sea in a companionable way that acts as our natural air condition to rescue the community. The sea thus illustrates permanence and timeless significance in to our imaginations and our practical every day lives. Understandably the community glows with emotions when we would have picnics on the seaside, swam and basked under the beaming sunshine. We would at times stretch, merrymaking under the glare of glittering stars on a pristine coast bereft of stench and litters of dead fish. It was refreshing hearing and seeing waves lapping on the shore with sensational rhythm without scare of untreated industrial waste. This encompassing relationship to the sea and the coastline is what defines us as proud Gunjurians. That is why it is incomprehensible to allow the Golden Lead – a Chinese Fish Meal Factory bent on oozing out our resources irresponsibly and robbing Gunjur of this innate connection to the sea and coastline. It is even more upsetting when our concerns are not listened to, at worst piting us against each other for selfish maximisation of profits. Yet, there is melange of some of our institutions from political to social, piggybacking the factory on flawed grounds after committing lamentable catalogue of environmental crimes. Herewith, the community’s long term aim shall be to strive as a united people to help create strong and representative institutions that will restrain the use of abuse of our resources and environment. What is happening in Gunjur is a symptom of institutional malaise and this engenders, at best expedites our exposure to remoseless exploitation. The cross-sectional irresponsible environmental exploitation from sand mining, deforestation, to over fishing and discharging of industrial waste in to the sea ought to stop. In this vein, it is prudent for our policy makers to create industrial park somewhere away from the sea and the coast, be it in Gunjur or otherwise. This will allow multiple dimensional approaches to development where Gunjur can benefit from tourism and recreation related investments. On the other side, industries like Golden Lead can operate in a designated park, fishing their raw materials around the country without encroaching on other small businesses.
Gunjur in this arrangement will benefit from different prongs of investments especially with direct involvement of the people shaping the development of their environment as stakeholders. Golden Lead and other such related Factories should hence relocate to this designated industrial park and with compliance to environmental rules of our country and respect for the livelihood of the local people. Their current location is in a wrong place and it is not sustainable. Ebrima Janneh(EB)