By Kebba Jeffang
The Lord Mayor of the Kanifing Municipality, Yankuba Colley, told journalists on Wednesday June 21, that the Bakoteh dump site should be reopened in order to halt indiscriminate dumping within the municipality. He said the site was closed by individuals who claimed to manage the place. However, he said this has led to the unavailability of another site, where garbage can be dumped.
“Nobody orders for the closure of the Bakoteh dump site. It was just some people relying on the new dispensation of democracy and asked for permit from the police. They intend to stage a demonstration around the Bakoteh dumpsite, and were given time. So when they went there, they closed the dump site up to date,” he said.
Mayor Colley urged the government to come in and open the place for the best interest of the people of the municipality. He said this will allow people to dispose waste in the area. He said the closure heavily affects Banjul and Bundung, behind Charles Jow Academy, now July 22nd Academy, where people are turning attention to a dump site when the legally allocated site is Bakoteh.
“Right now there is no dump site and we are dumping waste in Banjul and the people of Banjul are fed up. If you look at the volume of waste we generate from this municipality, you cannot compare it to what is collected anywhere,” he said.
He indicated that the last census shows that 20% of the Gambian population live in the Kanifing Municipality. He said 90% of foreigners are either living or doing their business transactions within the municipality. He said this shows that garbage generation is a problem.
Mayor Colley expressed hope that the situation could be resolved even by 80% or 90%.
“We have tens of thousands of tons of garbage that we collect annually. The budget line is fine because we have department that is in charge of cleansing. We have a budget line and it formed 45% of our annual budget,” he disclosed.
He said without a dump site, people will be indiscriminately dumping anywhere because they will not want to live with their garbage particularly the hospitals and the markets. He said people are suffering at this point in time as uncollected garbage is found in every corner of the municipality.
Meanwhile, he said there have been efforts since the previous government, on how to partner with international bodies that will take charge of the dumpsite. He said this would ensure that the site will be well-managed and people will not be affected by it. But this he said has never materialized.
“Council engaged foreign donors and partners. The last engagement we had was when we signed an MoU, with an Italian company. This was well received as we were confident that the issue will be resolved because of their plans. This had never happened. Council decided to terminate the MoU,’’ he said.
Mayor Colley dispelled that Council had received financial assistance from an international organization and the previous government, regarding this waste issue. He said there had never been a single dime received from international donors or from the government of the Gambia in particular.
“Bakoteh is a concern. As a Mayor, I go to Bakoteh dump site almost every night to see what is happening because it is a problem that I feel I cannot still tackle during my tenure. But notwithstanding, that is happening right now,’’ he said.
“If you go to the market, it is not good sight at all including the street corners, which was not happening. If you go to the river line, it is full of garbage and this is not good for the municipality as we are heading towards the rainy season,” said Mayor Colley.
He said if Bakoteh is not opened, then the Municipality should brace for a serious flood.