The great Chinese robbery: Golden Lead owns Gunjur beach as company leases it for 99 years
Updated: Jun 16
The great Chinese robbery: Golden Lead owns Gunjur beach as company leases it for 99 years and can sell it on if it wishes.
Many a time, when a foreign investor comes in to a country, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, there is high hopes that this comes with a lot of benefit in tax revenue for the home country, employment opportunities for the local community and a host of other benefits that adds value to the community as a result of the operations of the company through their Corporate Social Responsibility policies among others, are some of the things communities benefit from such direct foreign investment in the country. Not the case of a controversial fish meal processing company owned and operated by a Chinese family at Gunjur beach.
That company is Golden Lead, stationed right on the shores of Gunjur beach, on a land that was questionably acquired and through dubious methods! Golden Lead Fishmeal processing factory set up shop in Gunjur in 2015, following installation of factory equipments in a complex, the acquisition of which is shrouded in murky waters. GunjurOnline can authoritatively report that the land on which the company is operating from at Gunjur beach has actually been leased to them for a period of 99 years, effectively meaning the company can sell off the land if it chooses to do so! Remember when activists removed the company’s waste pipeline disposing production waste into the sea? The company re-installed a new waste pipe, planting the Chinese flag in the sand as they bury the new pipes. At the time, the company and only a handful of people knew that terrority actually now belongs to Golden Lead as it has been leased to them for a massive 99 years with the luxury of selling it to anyone if they so desire.
Now this begs the question: How did Golden Lead acquire this land and able to lease it for 99 years? Gambian law prohibits foreign nationals or companies from leasing land in The Gambia beyond 26 years! How then did Golden Lead manage to lease the land on which their factory is built on for 99 years? Corruption: Chinese investment policy in Africa has been focused on corrupting and bribing of government officials to get favourable business deals. Given that governmental level corruption in Africa is endemic, Chinese companies operating in Africa or with business interest in the continent use dollar dimplmacy to get what they want! In March 2019, “Patrick Ho, former secretary for home affairs in Hong Kong and a Chinese national, was convicted on international bribery and money-laundering charges. He was fined $400,000 and sentenced to three years in prison in New York in connection with activities on behalf of a Chinese company, the China Energy Company, which was doing business in Africa. According to the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), Ho bribed and schemed to bribe government officials from Uganda and Chad respectively, in order to secure unfair business advantages for China Energy.”, according to an opinion piece published in the Knowledge@Whatton publication of 19 September 2019. In the same article, the author reported that “ China in recent years has been aggressively investing in Africa. In a comprehensive June 2017 report, the global consulting firm McKinsey cited corruption as the largest pain point to be addressed to make the China-Africa trade partnership sustainable in the long term. According to the report, 60% to 87% of Chinese firms said they had paid a “tip” or bribe to obtain a license in connection with business transactions in Africa. The report notes that the corruption problem is “a vicious cycle in these countries — one fed by perceptions on both the African and the Chinese sides.” Gunjur environmental activists have been calling for government intervention to stop the operation of Golden Lead in Gunjur since the company started operations due to the emergence of evidence of environmental degradation and huge pressure on the natural resources as a result of the activities of the Golden Lead company. These calls fell on deaf ears as the company continue to pollute the environment and fish being wasted continually. The people of Gunjur must now contemplate on getting answers to why and how a foreign company is able to own and lease a portion of Gunjur beach for 99 years as the law gives a maximum of 26 years for foreign companies to lease a land in The Gambia. Or was the land leased in the name of an indeginous partner on behalf of the company? Your guess is as good as ours!