Councilor breaks ranks with MP on Golden Lead, decries corruption over Chinese factory
By Sainey Darboe, Editor-in-Chief:
The ward councillor for Gunjur, Hon. Momodou Charreh Gibba, has called for greater scrutiny of the operations of Chinese fish meal factories in Kombo South in a major break with the orthodoxy of studied silence of Kombo South MP and majority leader Hon. Kebba K. Barrow.
Addressing the issue amid renewed concerns over a putrid smell from the factory in the past few days, he declared:
“There has been a lot of issues, demonstrations and court cases with a host of environmentalists. Environmentalists have their own reasons of evidence of environmental degradation and other ill vices. I hereby join the call for the Gambia Government to reconsider their position and re-evaluate the existence of these fishmeal factories. In as much as their presence means revenue for the government and other stakeholders, I am convinced that the emergence and mode of operation of these factories has increased the level of corruption both at the department and fish landing sites including Gunjur.
Corruption is becoming an accepted norm within the modus operandi of these Chinese businesses around the fishery sector. The fisheries officials at the landing sites are submerged in this corruption scheme while the Gambia labour office neglects the plight of the employees. People are coaxed to abandon their responsibilities just for a kick back. The Labour laws are not seen to be applied, thereby leaving the employees at a disadvantage. There is no social security benefits or protection for the employees”.
The councilor’s cessation of prolonged silence on the issue has come as a shock to many as it undermines the business interests of Alagie Conteh who brought the Chinese company to Gunjur; and is alleged to be a major financier of the political ambitions of Kebba K. Barrow.
But councilor Gibba seemed to be on a rich vein while damning the consequences. He tears into the Chinese and their cronies saying:
“The most disturbing issue, is the fishing of juvenile fish. Catching the juvenile fish is under tremendous increase while the corrupt fishery officials give no regard. The Chinese investments around Kombo South is becoming a nightmare and very very undesirable.
The Gambia Government should put up a strict monitoring mechanism to combat corruption in this sector. The environmentalists have their own cases, some of which are at the courts which I need not delve into. The level of corruption encouraged and initiated by the operations of these Chinese factories is huge and the ministries of Fisheries, Environment as well as Trade and Employment must revisit and review their policies. The Gambia Government through the above mentioned ministries is entirely responsible and not the local authorities. With the coming of the Anti-corruption Commission, I hope justice and sanity would prevail”.
Residents nearby the Golden Lead factory have complained of pungent smells coming out of the factory in the last few days. One affected resident had this to say:
“It’s been waving in for a few days but today is boom. The machines have been at full pelt all night and still now - they obviously have too much there - the air is heavy and thick. “
Earlier, it has come to light that Golden Lead obtained a fake health certificate that was given to authorities in Japan for the factory to supply their products into the Japanese market.