Editorial: Golden Lead issue must be treated as a matter of national emergency
Updated: Sep 13, 2019
The festering environmental calamity in Gunjur being perpetrated by Chinese-owned Golden Lead Fishmeal Production company must be treated as a national emergency.
The incalculable damage caused to the environment and the people of Gunjur has reached unbearable levels amid lack of good will and lethargy on the part of the government despite legal action and protests.
Confronted by the apparent lack of respect to the environmental laws of the land, the National Environment Agency (NEA) filed a law suit against Golden Lead in a four count charge at the Brikama Magistrates Court. What followed was an announcement from the office of the President of The Republic of The Gambia that the NEA case against Golden Lead has been withdrawn and that the matter has been settled out of court. It was later to be found out that the then Trade minister, now Vice President, Dr Isatou Touray interfered for the case to be dropped in fear of scaring off potential investors.The community of Gunjur was never consulted in the announced out of court settlement, nor did NEA actually agree to it. The Trade minister obviously values investment over the health and well-being of the people who are suffering from the environmental degradation and depletion of natural resources by a foreign company who are only interested in their bottom line.
Recently, photos and videos have emerged showing the deplorable conditions at Gunjur beach as a result of the activities of the Fishmeal processing plant. The once beautiful sandy beaches are now increasingly looking like a ship building yard. Not only that, the effects of the waste pipe buried in the sea from the factory is now causing a worrying erosion that poses danger to beach users.
Quite apart from the sea erosion and terrible sight of the ugly fishing barge constructed right on the beach, the stench from Golden Lead factory during production can be perceived miles away which can have adverse health implications for the local community especially those living in close proximity to the factory.
The pumping of the factory waste into the sea has been a concern to environmental activists who took matters into their own hands to remove the pipes after calls on the government fell on deaf ears. In a defiant mode and following the arrest and charging of some of the environmentalist for removing the waste dumping pipes, Golden Lead installed new pipes to continue discharging factory waste into the sea, raising the Chinese flag in the process.
Despite calls from concerned environmental and youth groups to the government to address the Golden Lead Environmental issue, the status quo remains. It is our view that the situation at Gunjur beach and other parts of the Kombo Coast is a ticking time bomb and the government of The Gambia must take the issue seriously.
The fight to ensure that the community of Gunjur is free from the menace of Golden Lead’s destruction of the environment and depletion of the natural resources continues and we shall remain relentless. With that, we leave you with the quote from Margaret Mead, thus:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.”
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