By Awa B. Bah
The National Assembly (NA) Select Committee on the Environment, has concluded their fact finding visits to mining sites and environmental hot spots, with a visit to surroundings of Banjul. The committee visited Bond Road Mangrove Site, Hopkinson Street’s illegal dump site and the open sewage disposal site behind Gambia Senior Secondary. The committee toured various dump sites within and outside of Banjul and engaged local authorities to put more effort in waste management and environmental protection.
Sainey Touray, Chairman of the Select Committee and Member for Jarra, said people should be responsible on how they use the environment; that the way the open spaces are used and abandoned, is against the laws that protect the flora and fauna of the country and call on citizens and ‘Banjulians’ in particular, know that they have a stake in protecting and preserving the environment.
The Hopkinson Street illegal dumpsite is an isolated area in the midst of mangroves trees with heaps of waste and smoke covering the vast land. Both domestic and industrial water can be seen flowing through.
The NA Select Committee said the dumpsite needs urgent address to avoid it from destroying the mangrove vegetation where fish breed; that there is need for the City Council to prepare adequately in terms of responding to urgent environmental challenges and will be held accountable for any damage to the environment because they have been tasked by the people and the authorities.
Suwaibou Touray, Madi Ceesay and Tamsir Ann, the Subject Matter Specialist of the committee, emphasized the need for attitudinal change, noting that the environment is the most precious asset of any developing Country. They call for more sensitization for the locals and Companies to know that such places belong to the state and are not for personal use, to the disadvantage of others; that waste generated needs to be properly managed; that the Gambia is now seen to be a dumpsite for European products and waste items. Suwaibou Touray called on the Banjul City Council to adhere to their promise and desist from encouraging illegal dumping especially in public spaces and advised people to desist from dumping at the garage. The committee expressed their disappointment with the way Councils in the country, execute their duties. They urged the public to take responsibility of maintaining and managing clean, public places.
After a detailed interaction with those assigned to manage and look after the dump sites and public spaces, the NA Select Committee on the Environment assured that the issues raised, will be tabled before the general body of the National Assembly and Government, for further consideration.