By Mamadou Dem
As part of their mandate and responsibility to establish the truth and assess the damages allegedly caused under the former regime, the Janneh Commission of enquiry that is set up by Government to probe into the financial dealings and assets of the former President YayaJammeh, and his close associates, yesterday visited mining sites in the coastal areas of Tujering, Sanyang and Kartong, which were heavily affected by the activities of the mining companies namely, Carnegie Mineral Company, Gamico and APAM.
The purpose of the visit was to enable the Commission have first-hand information and to ascertain the damages as well as how to prevent such recurrence and also to hear from the local communities.
The delegation led by the Commission Chairman, Sourahata Janneh, Counsel Bensouda and the Secretary to the Commission, included Tony Ghattas, the Managing Director of APAM. The first port of call was Batokunku –Tujering minig site, where Heavy Mineral Concentrate [HMC] namely Zinc, ilmenite and black sand, were extracted and exported to China for separation.
From there, the delegation proceeded to Sanyang which is mostly affected by the mining activities causing environmental damage to the land and undermining agricultural activities of the communities who have raised frustrations over the damages caused by the companies.
The Alkalos of the affected villages appealed to the delegation of the Commission to take note of their frustration regarding the destroyed sites which they used for farming, and forward this to the executive for action.
They claimed that since the commencement of the mining activities by the Companies, the communities have not benefited from any development, despite their agreement.
Mr. Ghattas on his part promised to rehabilitate the areas damaged by his company. He however outlined numerous project he has brought to the communities particularly the Sanyang mining site among them, the construction of the road and electrification leading to the site, as well as the planting of cashew trees.
Other members of the delegation were the Director of the Geological Department, Abdoulie Cham and his deputy and the Executive Director of the National Environmental Agency, Momodou J Suwareh, who blamed the companies for failing to execute their responsibilities.