Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Gambia: Gunjur environment activists back in court

The four Gambian environment activists were back in court today facing three charges of conspiracy to commit a felony, criminal trespass and willful damage to property.

These charges stemmed from opposition of these activists to the environmental damage being inflicted on the town of Gunjur by the Chinese-owned and operated Golden Lead fish meal factory.

The group of activists were led by Dr. Amadou Scatred Janneh, a former minister in the government of Yaya Jammeh, a university professor and a political activist, uprooted the waste-pipes that disposed of the affluent of fish by-products into the Atlantic.  Dr. Janneh was charged "in absentia" together with the four while he was away in the United States where his family still lives.

According to the evidence of one Mr. Dibba who identified himself as the General Manager of the Golden Lead Import and Export Company Ltd., the management adopted the simple waste disposal system from similar factories in Senegal and Mauritania that essentially composed of PCV pipes that emptied themselves into the Atlantic, and as far as it can be ascertained, without prior treatment.

The untreated affluent is suspected to be one of the causes of the beaches along the coast being littered with dead fish and other sea creatures which is a treat to the health of the community as well as to tourism.

The witness admitted in court that although the National Environment Agency (NEA) recommended to the owners of the Golden Lead factory that they should construct a standard and functional "treatment plant" before discharging the affluent into the Atlantic Ocean, they failed to meet the requirement.

This noncompliance led to court action by NEA where they faced four counts.  However, according to the General Manager of Golden Lead, the case was abruptly withdrawn by NEA without stating the reason or reasons for the withdrawal.

The case has been adjourned until 19th June at 10:00AM.