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  • Writer's pictureOmar Haruna Bah

Opinion: The Sanyang Incident, could it fester to Gunjur?

The Sanyang Incident, could it fester to Gunjur?

Sometimes it is too depressing to be from The Gambia or to love the Gambia so much. I say this, of course, with bitterness but appraising the issues at hand leaves you no choice but to be dejected. It is mind-numbing to make a promenade around the many problems this country gets to go through. The wicked, vicious cycle of poverty, inept leadership and highly toxic political arena are just a few bold reminders of what is, should have and would have of this country. Of all of these, perhaps the Chinese Fishmeal Factories are the ones that need immediate attention. Their presence represents many threats to the livelihood of Gambians.

Golden Lead fish meal plant on the coast of Gunjur

Fishmeal factories have spread throughout the Kombo South coastal villages. These factories turned our pristine beaches into no-go areas because of the foul stenches that they emit. Factories that are producing fishmeal for PIGS when we need the very same fish for our daily survival. I guess that is the bitterest part of it all. However, to see these Fishmeal factories cease operation is going to be very unlikely. For instance, the Golden Lead factory in Gunjur has somehow secured a leasehold of 99 years. How that happened remains a mystery, but it is Gunjur, a community divided on even how to handle the factory. The divide and conquer tactic seem to work well for the proprietors of the factory. Little solidarity got shown to some community environmentalists when they locked horns with the factory's owners. The lawsuit that got filed by some community members continues to languish in the courts. The saga of the pipe that the factory uses to empty its potentially harmful waste into the ocean despite the youths having earlier damage the pipeline comes to mind. Hence, the factory's owners continue to get away with their unpopular, at least among the youthful population, business conducts.

These facts have been happening over the years, and the frustrations youths continue to groom is a time ticking bomb. The current government is incapable and does not have the political will to end the misery of foul smells Gunjurians live through. UDP's Lawyer Darboe has promised that once elected he, would halt the factory's operation. However, that is a campaign promise Gunjurians should not be gullible to buy. The fact remains that the National Assembly Majority leader, a native of Gunjur and a UDP party member, never did anything substantial to address the Golden Lead saga. He once publicly denied the foul smell that emanates from the factory. It is therefore prudent to not fall for the hocus pocus that comes with campaign promises.

Youths in Sanyang took to the streets last Monday in protest

However, my concern is what happened in Sanyang spreading to Gunjur. It does not take a rocket scientist to see all the signs that led to the Sanyang incident are right there in Gunjur waiting for a trigger moment. I believe this would be more dangerous should it happen in Gunjur. Of course, this opinion stems from my knowledge of the division Gunjur is over the Golden Lead Factory. The Community has factions supporting the factory's presence and others hold passionate hate for those who want to see proper environmental sustainable conducts be adopted in the factory's operations while some just want the factory gone.

The government should avoid waiting until something goes awry before attempting to resolve grievances through extravagant means such as the establishment of commissions. The environmental degradations occurring in the Kombo South Coastal villages, such as sand mining, destruction of women's vegetable gardens, overfishing, and the continued repugnant odours emanating from these fishmeal factories, must be addressed immediately, or a repeat of what occurred in Sanyang would become the expected trend in the affected villages.


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