British High Commissioner meets Gunjur duo over environmental issues
British High Commissioner to The Gambia Sharon Wardle on Wednesday met with Gunjur environmental activists Sulayman Bojang and Lamin Jassey to discuss wide-ranging issues pertaining to current environmental degradation affecting livelihoods in Gunjur and surrounding areas. The meeting which was facilitated by environmental activist Ahmed Manjang came on the hills of the festering dispute with Chinese owned Golden Lead Fish meal processing plant accused of discharging factory waste into the ocean in Gunjur.
Photo: Lamin Jassey, H.E Sharon Wardle and Sulayman Bojang at British High Commission in Banjul
Speaking to GunjurNewsOnline about their meeting with British High commissioner, Sulayman Bojang revealed:
“Lamin Jassey and l met with the British High commissioner in The Gambia today. We had a very fruitful and good discussion with the High Commissioner for more than an hour in a bid to finding a solution to the environmental issues Gunjur is facing.”
Sulayman Bojang, the group leader of the Gunjur seven who were arrested and detained by the police a few months ago for a planned protest against the Golden Lead Environmental pollution added that they also discussed the issues of human rights violation and police intimidation against local environmental activists in Gunjur and surrounding areas. “We also discussed with the ambassador about police intimidation and harassment against environmental activists. The high commissioner in response to our discussion and concerns promised to meet minister of environment, National Assembly Environment Select Committee and the International Community in a bid to solve the environmental issues facing Gunjur and surrounding areas”. Sulayman Bojang concluded.
Reacting to the meeting between Gunjur environmental activists and the British high commissioner, Molly Crow, a passionate supporter of the cause to protect the beautiful sandy beaches of Gunjur added: “Unfortunately I think this is the only way now to make a statement with these stubborn people. That is if the British care enough. The right ones will and is about pressure. The ones making the bad decisions need to be convinced they will lose something if this continues, either revenue or reputation, because they apparently don’t care from an environmental or humanitarian point of view. I think this is the kind of pressure now, that needs to be applied.”
Also reacting to the meeting between the British High Commissioner and the Gunjur environmental activists, Ahmed Manjang who helped facilitate the meeting added:
“I would like to thank our local environmental group especially Lamin F. Jassy and Sulayman Bojang for their effort to draw international attention to environmental issues along the Kombo coast. Meeting BHC and presenting our ecological problems was a massive coup and I am positive that the involvement of Sharon will help our cause. I would like to thank Sharon for giving us the opportunity ”
On her part, High Commissioner Wardle said of meeting with the Gunjur youths in a twitter post following the conclusion of the meeting:
“V constructive discussion today with #Gunjur Youth Movement about environmental concerns & importance of community cohesion & dialogue #Gambia @UKinGambia”
The Gunjur environmental protection groups are optimistic that the environmental degradation concerns from sand mining, waste water discharge into the sea will be given the due attention it needed now that international attention is drawn. The Kombo coastal region presents a big opportunity for the country to tap into the massive potential of eco-tourism with beautiful unspoilt sandy beaches.
It is estimated that about 70-80% of the tourist that visits The Gambia are eco-tourists from the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe. Kombo South is the hotspot for eco-tourism in the Gambia with clean beaches, number of eco-lodges, fishing, birdwatching, a snake farm, culture, swimming, proximity to Cassamance, Oyster collection, canoeing, etc. Pollution of the sea and air due to the presence of fishmeal factories will seriously threaten most of these activities.