When Will Gunjur Police Invite Golden Lead Factory Also?
Building the New Gambia When Will Gunjur Police Invite Golden Lead Factory Also? Now that the Gunjur police had invited Amadou Scattered Janneh in connection with the uprooting of pipes on the community’s beach, it is therefore necessary that the same police also invite the Golden Lead factory to shed light on the matter. Failure to do that means the Gambia Police would therefore be an accomplice to the destruction of our natural endowment by a foreign company. It will further indicate that the Gambia Police would be an oppressive institution that obstructs citizens from exercising their duties as patriots.
Madi Joberteh - Human Rights Activists/defender
What we know is that Golden Lead was asked by the NEA to install wastewater treatment plants and a means of disposing them off last year. After failing to comply with the necessary environmental regulations, NEA then ordered their closure and went further to take the company to court. Unfortunately the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Employment re-ordered the company to resume operations and then sought an out of court settlement in which Golden Lead factory agreed to pay 25 thousand US dollars in June 2017. The settlement stated that the company must take immediate measures to treat its wastewater and also pay for the testing of water to ensure that there is no contamination. Yet despite this settlement, Golden Lead continued to dump wastewater into the ocean while falling to ensure the proper disposal of their waste. In fact Golden Lead had always denied dumping wastewater into the ocean while it has also never informed NEA that it had laid pipes under the beach to transport wastewater into the ocean. If this action by the Golden Lead factory is not criminal enough to trigger the concern of the Gambia Police to immediately invite the company for questioning, then woe betide the Gambia! The action by the people of Gunjur in removing those pipes on the beach constitutes no violation of the law in anyway. Their action rather constitutes a demonstration of patriotism and a high sense of responsibility to protect vital national assets such as the beach and the ocean. Those who claim that Amadou and Gunjur folks took the law into to their own hands or trespassed the premises of the company are missing the point. We must understand that the beach and the ocean are public properties and not private properties in the Gambia. The beach and the ocean are not dumping grounds for any material, toxic or non-toxic. Hence when citizens discover any destructive infrastructure, materials or substances on the beach, they are within their rights and duties to clean the beach and the ocean. The people of Gunjur never entered the premises of the company. Rather they saw pipes on the beach that are transporting substances into the ocean. Therefore within the confines of the beach and the ocean the people have a right and a duty to remove those pipes in order to ensure that the beach and the ocean are protected, clean and save. Therefore the question citizens must ask is, does the Golden Lead factory have a license to lay pipes on the beach in order to transport wastewater into the ocean? The fact that the company never reported these pipes to the relevant authorities and the fact that they had denied ever dumping wastewater into the ocean only to discover that this are in fact what they are doing means that the matter is a legitimate concern for which the police must invite them. Not only must the police invite Golden Lead, but also the NEA must re-issue their order for the closure of the company or take them back to court. Furthermore the Gambia Tourism Board must also raise its voice and take practical action to bring Golden Lead to book for polluting our ocean thereby threatening tourism in the Gambia. Similarly GIEPA must also take action against Golden Lead for business malpractices that stand against the values and standards of foreign investment. In the same vein the Brikama Area Council must also take action against Golden Lead in line with the Local Government Act for damaging the environment. Above all the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs must also weigh in on Golden Lead given that the factory’s illegal action is a threat to the economic viability of this nation. Golden Lead’s deadly impact is now even surpassing Gunjur. It is now open secret that the company has been dumping waste in multiple places including in the heart of our tourism sector where a painful stench now greets citizens on the Bertil Harding highway in Kotu! From Gunjur to Kitty to Mandinaba to Kembujeh to Kotu, one can notice severe bad odour in the air at any time of the day and night due to the waste from this factory! Why should the Gambia Government therefore not only remain silent, but seeks to undermine citizens that stand up to protect the environment and the rights and lives of fellow citizens? In light of the above, multiple ministries such as those responsible for the environment, water resources, trade, industry as well as the Office of the President must also take action against Golden Lead because their action constitutes a threat to human security and national security of the Gambia. In this regard, if the Office of the President, the relevant ministries as well as the IGP, NEA, GTB, GIEPA and Brikama Area Council fail to take action then citizens must charge them for aiding and abetting the destruction of Gambia’s natural environment by a foreign company with impunity! Golden Lead cannot develop or add value to the development of the Gambia. One has to know the true story of foreign investors in Africa especially in the extractive industries and agricultural and natural resources exploitation to realise that such companies only bring mayhem. In fact in most cases these kinds of companies do not pay their fair share of taxes while they pay very low salaries to their local workers. When they promise communities that they will bring socioeconomic development and infrastructure, in most cases they fail to fulfil their promises. Hence Gambians must not take this matter lightly but to stand up to demand that the Gambia Government fulfils its obligations in the preservation of our environment and the protection of citizens’ rights. Gunjur Police, when will you invite Golden Lead Managers for Questioning? We are waiting! For the Gambia Our Homeland!
Madi Jobarteh is a Programme Manager at The Association of Non-Governmental Associations - TANGO and also a Human Rights Activist/defender.