By Awa B. Bah
The National Assembly (NA) select committee on the environment Monday June 11th 2018, continued with their visit to mining sites and environmental hot spots by paying a surprise visit to the Chinese Fishmeal Company ‘Golden Lead’, in Gunjur.
The visit is part of the second leg of the countrywide tour of the Committee to mining sites and environmental hot spots that have caused friction between communities in the West Coast Region. As part of its mandate, the NA select committee on the environment is assigned to assess environmental challenges and make recommendations to Government. The committee met with officials of the Company after they negotiated for entrance and access to the facilities.
If readers can recall, the same Company was once accused of disposing toxic waste from its factory into the ocean, killing scores of fish that littered the shores of Gunjur and surrounding. They were also accused of dumping rotten fish on the shores of Gunjur.
However, officials of the denied all accusations. According to Leo, the Company operates under strict environmentally friendly conditions recommended by the NEA.
According to him, the Company is Gambian owned and was established legitimately through the investment promotion efforts of the Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA); that they acquired their license to operate as a Fish Meal factory through the Ministry of Fisheries, the National Environment Agency, the Food Safety and Quality Authority and from the Ministry of Trade, Regional Integration, Industry and Employment.
The fish meal company he said respects the ocean that gives them the fish to process; that they cannot be disposing toxic industrial waste into the ocean. Leo said his Company does not use any chemical in any form, in their processing and packaging of the fishmeal; that the waste water that is produced is purely water from the fish they process; that this is collected and emptied everyday by sewerage trucks. They denied that they are not responsible for the oversupply of fish which ends up dumped on land and at sea, as portrayed on social media. Leo said those pictures and videos are not even pictures of the Gambia; that they have a well-equipped and standard water treatment plant that environment friendly.
Leo further told the visiting team that the capacity of handling and processing fresh fish is five hundred tons per day and they are yet to meet this target since they came into existence; that the Company buys fish from Gambian Senegalese and Casamance fishermen and the fish they buy is Bonga, locally known as ‘Kobbo’ and ‘Yaboye’. Golden Lead he said strongly values complying with regulations of the environment and the fisheries Act and are willing to contribute to efforts to correct this unfortunate situation along the country’s coastline.
At the end of their discussion, Members of the NA select committee were taken on a conducted tour of the factory, to assess the status of the Company and see for themselves how the Company operates, so as to dismiss the claims made against them on social media and from the community of Gunjur.
The committee including a subject matter specialist, reminded the Company’s officials to be law abiding; that Companies come and go but that the Gambia will continue to remain as the most precious asset of her people.
The NAMs call on the Company to be fully aware and comply with the standards under which their license was issued to them; that they as elected representatives of the people, have assured their electorate and the entire country, of their strong commitment towards the development of The Gambia and protect the environment and its resources, on which the sustainability of their Company depends.