The Government and Golden Lead Factory are Responsible!
The press release issued by Golden Lead fish factory on Monday May 22 has come as the latest insult to the intelligence and dignity of Gambians perpetrated by this company and condoned by our own government. In the press release the company tells us that they obtained their license through a transparent and official channel from GIEPA and the ministries of Fisheries and Trade. Yet until now none of these State agencies have come out to tell Gambians what is happening in Gunjur and what they are doing about it. But the company instead chose to deny and reject all responsibilities for actions emanating from their activity in Gunjur.
In the first place the company said their wastewater is stored in suck-aways and then collected by sewerage trucks. But this is contrary to the reality because the fact is they have pipes buried in the sand going from their factory into the ocean. They also deny that the wastewater is toxic because they claim it is pure water from the fish. This is also not true because the liquid waste is ‘effluent’ and waste in any form is never harmless. Therefore it is clear that this company has decided to misinform and mislead Gambians just to cover up their misconduct in our land.
The company again attempts to wash off their hands from the dumping of fish on the beach claiming they have ultra-modern equipment and invested more than 3 million US dollars. This is another attempt to mislead our people because regardless of the equipment or the amount of money they invested, the fact remains that we have never had this kind of situation in Gunjur until this company came into the scene. We have had fisher folks along the coastline for decades and centuries, yet we have never experienced this kind of carnage on our beaches. Rather we see how this company is now putting the blame on suppliers for the dumping of fish yet refusing to accept that those suppliers would not have been there if the company did not require them. The question they need to ask is what have they done to limit or prevent altogether such dumping if indeed they care about the ocean and our environment as they claimed in their misleading press release.
To add salt to injury, the company now tells us that this criminal misconduct is because there has not been social dialogue between the stakeholders in the Gunjur landing site. Who are the stakeholders? Did the company make any effort to engage any stakeholders especially the community? Have they listened to the community and take into account the concerns of the people? Is it not their responsibility to engage the community to ensure that in their business activity, no damages are caused or they put in plans to prevent or clean the damage? Yet we see how this company is seeking to play with the minds of our people by bringing in open-ended and self-righteous statements.
As if that is not enough, the company went further to say that the “situation is triggered by external factors beyond the control of Golden Lead factory.” But the company did not say who or what are these external factors? This is yet another attempt to shift blame and responsibility from themselves and throw it out to unidentified elements. This is dishonest and criminal that tells us that this company does not mean well for the Gambia.
What does the company mean by this statement in their press release: “We call for the organization of the fisheries sector in the Gambia so that issues and challenges in the sector are addressed in the professional manner”? Are they saying that the Gambia Government is not taking the right steps to address the issues and challenges in this sector? What are those issues and challenges? By all indications they seem to be right there because if we could have a foreign company misconduct itself like this yet State agencies remain silent, then it means such a company can have the audacity to say whatever it wants to say. This is why Golden Lead factory is insulting Gambians. This is because our own Government agencies are doing nothing to deal with this issue.
Where is the EIA report for this company? How is NEA monitoring this company to ensure that its waste is not dumped into our ocean? It is disheartening to hear the NEA acknowledge that this company never had a treatment plant as required by the EIA recommendation. Yet NEA attempts to give excuse that they were not aware of the malpractices of the company in failing to treat its waste in the right manner. What is GIEPA doing to monitor this company to ensure that it is fulfilling its responsibilities as per its Export Processing Zone License? What are the ministries of Fisheries and Trade doing to ensure that the overall concerns, issues and challenges of the fisheries sector are addressed to make sure our local fisher folks enjoy their full rights and benefits from our ocean?
The presence of this company and its misconduct is the responsibility of the Gambia Government and the State must be seen to stand up to fulfill their duty to our country. This press release is full of misinformation, half-truths and outright lies aimed at misleading Gambians. I call on the people of Gunjur and Kartong to remain steadfast and united because the company is now attempting to confuse and mislead so as to bring division among our communities.
Remember oppressors and exploiters always seek to divide and conquer the people. If the company wanted to have a dialogue, let it organize community meetings. Let it go to the Governor or the Alkalo or the VDC of Gunjur. But it cannot damage our environment yet tries to caste doubts and criticisms at our people when it is the company that is responsible for the damage.
God Bless the Gambia.
Blog by human rights defender Madi Jobarteh
Listen to this radio interview with NEA boss shared by The Gambian Cause