By Mustapha Jallow
A staff of Infinity New Energy Enterprise (INEE), on Monday July 8th 2019, alleged that the Chinese factory situated at Nyambai Forest buys waste oil from Kotu and Brikama power stations and recycle it into diesel.
The factory that was operating ‘illegally within the Nyambai forest’ according to NEA officials was asked to suspend operation when the Police Intelligence, Interpol and other security officials visited the site to investigate their activities.
A staff of the said factory who prefers anonymity, told this reporter that at the beginning of the factory’s operations,
‘‘we were using old tires to produce heavy-duty fuel but we later discovered that this exposed us to dangerous fumes. We used this method for only a year. Then the proprietors suggested we use ‘black’ or waste oil from engines. They started buying this waste oil from NAWEC power stations and that is what we are recycling now into diesel oil.’’
The staff alleged that the factory’s manager used to go to Brikama or sometimes Kotu power station where tankers supplied them with used oil to process into diesel fuel. He added that waste oil was processed into diesel fuel and customers came for their supply. He said that some of these customers came from within the local communities of Mandinary while others came from Serrekunda and other gas stations.
He said the Chinese proprietors used to sell diesel fuel in dalasi and not in foreign currency. The source stated that they had dug wells inside the factory, where they kept the fuel after recycling it.
“Recycling this oil is risky and my earning is not that much. I took the risk because that is the only way to earn an income for the survival of my family, including myself. I never receive any insurance benefit since I started working at the factory.
Whenever you are injured, they give you some money but when the month ends, it would be deducted from your salary.Chinese factories such as this one is not good for Africa because they protect their own interest and do not protect the environment. The Police have stopped us for operating. The two proprietors have travelled to Genuine Bissau because they have another factory like this one, operating in Bissau,’’ the anonymous worker told this reporter.
According to him, the Chinese proprietors promised to come back in three months’ time to see whether the Gambian authorities will allow them to continue their operations.
“As a family man, I cannot sit for three months without doing anything. I have to look for another job to be able to earn something for the upkeep of my family. What I heard from their discussion is that if the situation remains the same, they will relocate their project to Guinea Bissau,’’ he said.
The anonymous reporter said the factory has earned much money from the production of diesel fuel.
Meanwhile several attempts were made to get the version of the factory’s proprietors to no avail.
According to the power generation director of NAWEC Baboucarr Faal, they have had problems with the disposal of oil waste and sludge at their power stations which led them to arrange with a factory in Mandinary, to collect the waste oil and sludge, free of charge. He added that they have stopped coming to collect the wast oil and sludge.
Mr Edward Jatta, a Senior Electrical Engineer at Brikama power station also confirmed to this reporter that their station used to supply oil waste to the Chinese factory at Nyambai.
“We’ve been supplying them free of charge because the waste disposal facility sometimes fills out and we have no other option but to give those who need it, for the engines to be free and to function normally,’’ this reporter was told at the Kabafita power station in Brikama.
According to Jatta, the last supply of oil waste to the Chinese factory was two months ago. “It has been a while since the Chinese requested for Oil waste from us because I learnt that they have stopped operations at the moment. Supplying them with this black oil does not mean that we need or get something in return. No. We feel that by disposing of this oil waste, our work will be made easier because we want to get rid of it from the power station anyway,’’ he explained.
In a telephone conversation with this reporter, an official at the National Environment Agency (NEA) said the NEA is yet to receive any report from the Police regarding the factory; that once investigations are done, the Police will inform them on what to do.
Police spokesperson ASP Lamin Njie, when contacted by this reporter, said he will find out from Police investigators and will get back to him, but he could not be reached at the time of going to press as his cell-phone kept ringing without him answering.