Former Information Minister Paints A Picture of Hopelessness Over Environmental Challenges in Kombo
Updated: Jun 17, 2020
Wednesday 10 June | By Yero S. Bah
It is an open secret about the environmental challenges in Kombo South & North, there has been numerous push and pull as well as legal battles over it as environmentalist and social justice activists continues their fight.
One of such strong activist is Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh, who over the weekend in an exclusive interview with GunjurOnline painted a picture of frustration and hopelessness as far as environmental challenges are concern in his native Gunjur and satellite villages, saying “I think the main challenge is the government flouting its own laws and regulations.”
He said that, in all of these cases the problems are somewhat tied to government failures reasoning when you have companies cutting down trees without having afforestation programs, companies that pollute environments, neighborhoods and communities readily dumping waste into the sea whilst the communities have done a lot to inform the government of some of the nefarious activities of companies such as Golden Lead factory in Gunjur and Nessim factory in Sanyang without any consequences.
“Then there is government failure in the entire process.”
Dr. Janneh explained that some environmental activists including him filed a civil court case against Golden Lead factory but laments that the case is still lingering in court for over three years now saying nothing has been done about it by the state as no substantive hearing is taking place. “The court is dragging.”
He noted that, they have also engaged various government departments such as fisheries department, environment and trade saying that “sometimes they even provide drinks” for these engagements but nothing comes out of these meetings. “We have even sponsored a live GRTS show at the beach to create awareness in the community as we entertained different opinions on the platform just to sensitize the community.”
The former Information and Communication Minister continued that, in the case of Golden Lead factory, they physically uprooted their sewage underground waste pipe saying Golden Lead factory never had the authority to legally bury that pipe which disposes waste to the sea.
He added that, even the National Environment Agency (NEA) warned the Chinese not to erect those pipes into the sea, but they didn’t listen to that advice by the NEA so “I led a group to uproot those pipes” and we were taken to court but eventually won the case however government turned around and gave Golden Lead explicit authority to continue operations.
Dr. Amadou Scattred Janneh charged that, they have tried every legal step and peaceful means to settle this case to effect change but to no avail alleging that the Chinese company has some financial muscle and that they have been able to use that to corrupt some of the public officials in order to continue business.
Dr. Janneh said he has no evidence of this but it is too difficult to understand why two government agencies would have asked a company to stop operations and another would come to find a loophole to ask such a company to continue operations?
Adding that, I can’t understand why a minister or government official would say that Golden Lead factory has reduced its activities to just 50% when in reality that is not true as the National Assembly Select Committee on environment wrote a report refuting such claims.
“Basically we have some circumstantial evidence at our disposal; otherwise I can’t understand why a responsible government would allow such a small or any company to be violating its own regulations or laws without any penalties.”
The Social Justice and human rights advocate said that, the Gambia is violating International Environmental Agreements such as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (UNCBD), as well as the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and the Kyoto protocol, where it has committed herself to the sustainable Management of the environment.