By: Louise Jobe
Golden Lead, a Chinese fish meal processing factory mired in alleged waste dumping into the Ocean and surrounding environment of Gunjur, is yet again alleged of trading in CFA currency, to purchase fish from fishermen, in order to meet the demands of their factory. Local fish vendors at the Gunjur fish landing site indicate to this reporter that the fish scarcity most often experienced at the Coastal fish landing sites, is because the fishmeal factory has engaged fishing boats owned by Senegalese nationals, for the heavy supply of fish to their factory which they say, is purchased in CFA instead of the Dalasi, the national currency. According to this reporter, Senegalese boat owners can also confirm this allegation.
Speaking to this reporter, a local female fish vendor in Gunjur, said the Senegalese fishermen are also supported by the fish meal factory in subsidizing fuel and rendering maintenance services to their fishing boats.
‘‘Most of the catch purchased by the fishmeal factory is caught by Senegalese boat owners, in our waters. Our local market mostly experiences scarcity of fish mainly because the price given to Senegalese fishermen by the fishmeal factory, is quite different from what we the local fish vendors pay to them,’’ she said. Scores of people who work at the Gunjur fish landing site including Senegalese boat owners, say the fishermen find this comfortable, when paid in their own currency by the fishmeal factory.
The lady fish vendor said the agreement between the fishermen and the Government of the Gambia, is to first sell their catches to local fish vendors, before taking it to the Chinese fish meal factory for processing, which she said, has never happened.
‘‘The agreement between Government and the fishermen (including Senegalease fishermen), is to first supply fish to local vendors before selling to the fishmeal factory, in order to avoid scarcity in the local market. But this instruction is not followed by the fishermen simply due to the price paid to them by the Chinese fishmeal factory,’’ she posited.
When this reporter contacted the Marketing Manager of the Golden Lead Fishmeal Factory to shed light on the issue of trading with Senegalease fishermen in CFA, she declined to comment. She however indicated that the Factory for now, is not allowing interviews from media houses and that the allegation of trading in CFA currency with Senegalese fishermen, is unfounded. Jojo, the Chinese national and Marketing Manager of the Factory, said Bakary Darboe their Gambian counterpart, cannot also comment on this and that the reporter should go to the Chinese people.
This reporter made effort to contact both the Finance and Fisheries Ministries, to shed light on the issue after several attempts to reach them on telephone proved futile.
This reporter will continue with investigations into the issue to adequately inform the readership.