By Hatab Nyang
‘‘Protect our Environment’’ was the slogan demonstrators chanted in Kartong, during a peaceful demonstration by members of the communities of Gunjur and Kartong, on the 20th May, 2017.
Addressing the demonstrators, Lawyer Ebrima Jaiteh thanked everyone who participated in the demonstration to exercise civic liberties, duties and responsibilities.
Mr. Jaiteh told demonstrators that they did not do anything that contravenes the law, but were exercising their civic duty peacefully, for the protection of their environment, even without a permit. ‘‘So we don’t need a permit to come out and show our dissatisfaction with what is going on in our immediate environment,’’ said Lawyer Jaiteh. He continued to say that environmental pollution is a slow killer.
He emphasized the importance of unity in the struggle to protect the environment for the present and coming generations.
Lawyer Jaiteh went further to say that no amount of fear should prevent good citizens from demonstrating peacefully to show their dissatisfaction on anything that affects their lives; that this is a right that is enshrined in the supreme laws of our land. Mr. Badara Bajo, Director of Environmental Protection Development Group (GEPA DG), commended the demonstrators for the peaceful march to show their dissatisfaction regarding recent happenings within their communities.
Mr. Bajo praised the people of Kartong in the way and manner they expressed their concerns and said this should put an immediate stop to the illegal fishing and dumping of rotten fish on beaches and roadsides; that factories should limit themselves to their capacities.
The EPA director further called on the new government to always consider and include civil society, in any decision they make on the welfare of the people; that government should stop the top-down approach in decision making and start the bottom-up approach for the benefit of the country; that government should do proper environment impact assessment, before accepting the establishment of any factory in the country.
Lothar Hehr, a tourist from Germany said he has been coming to the Gambia for quite some time now and has always used the beach for swimming; but that now he doesn’t because the water is rather polluted by the waste from factories operating within the beach area.
Mustapha Manneh, a Youth Activist from Kartong on his part, said government has neglected their concerns for long and now that they voted for change, their voices and concerns should be heard and further said another demonstration is in the offing and this time it will be in Gunjur.