• Sainey Darboe, Editor-in-chief

Badara Njie Bajo: Gunjur Environment is under threat

Gunjur: Friday 19 June | Yero S. Bah |

A local environmentalist in Guniur Badara Njie Bajo has said that, the environment in

Gunjur is under serious threat from human encroachments saying there is “sustained

odour” coming out from the Golden Lead Factory describing it unpleasant and offensive.

GEPADG Executive Director, B.N. Bajo

Mr. Badara Njie Bajo, Executive Director of the Gunjur Environmental Protection and Development Group (GEPADG) made these remarks in an exclusive interview with GunjurOnline on June 17, 2020 at his residence in Gunjur village.

He noted that, after that offensive odour he and his team visited the area, and to their surprise they found swathes of fish were dying, crocodiles, mangroves and other biodiversity were equally severely affected which forced them to organize a peaceful demonstration which attracted national attention but still nothing happened. “Now the factory doesn’t want to see me near their premises when I usually used to visit it frequently.”

Golden Lead Fishmeal factory at Gunjur beach

The founder and CEO of GEPDG explained that, he had several meetings with various relevant stakeholders in the country but the situation in Gunjur and the satellite villages remained the same, saying his organization came up with an environmental document with solid resolutions since February 1998 where local villagers, National Environment Agency, Forestry Department and all other stakeholders participated and the resolutions’ document was presented to the then National Assembly under the Yahya Jammeh era but nothing came out of it. “It gathered dust in the offices of these institutions.”

Mr. Bajo, also known as Base Five or Director continued that, the local authorities in Kombo South handed over the land to Golden Lead factory proprietors without proper consultations in Guniur and the nearby villages adding that no one in his native Gunjur knows what sort of materials that the Chinese are exporting to China from that factory.

“We just see loaded containers shipped to China from Gunjur daily.”

Golden Lead export containers (Photo: Amadou S. Janneh)

The environmentalist believes that, the current government should step in to proffer a solution saying Kombo South is prone to lots of environmental challenges since mining is also ongoing in the neighborhood. He said that, the communities concern ought to be

consulted thoroughly for any mining or marine exploitations claiming that is not

happening in the currently saying that the current government is using unexplainable

excuses that they also found the factory there as it was established by the Jammeh

regime.


He charged that, even if the factory is not closed but it should respect the residents,

adhere to the norms and values or environmental protection protocols despite the fact that it is creating job opportunities for locals but issues need to be balanced saying the worst thing at the moment is that none of the people in the community knows what the Chinese produced in the factory.

He noted that, few years ago, there was a rich biodiversity in Kombo South but today

animals such as antelopes are nowhere to be seen in that entire locality saying human

activities have chased them away into other countries such neighboring Casamance

claiming this could drag the tourism sector of the Gambia to its knees if not fixed

quickly.

Mr Bajo explained that, government policies should be revisited, government should engage civil societies as partners, and government needs to implement and enforce environmental protective polices to safeguard the environment in the Gambia.

“Government needs to see civil society as partners and not enemies.”

He said that, as of now, both the ruling government of President Adama Barrow and opposition parties are getting careless over environmental issues saying none of the political parties is seriously talking about the environment in the country adding each is blaming one another. He argued that, public officials are there to serve people noting that if they cannot do that then they ought to resign and handover the duties to others who can function well for the sake of the nation.


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