As the situation has become calmer in the coastal village of Sanyang, human rights lawyer Assan Martin is calling on the authorities to take steps to address the growing concerns about the fishmeal industry.
“The government has a big role to play here. The authorities have to make sure that they deal with the situation and then act accordingly,” lawyer Martin told Freedomnewspaper in an exclusive interview.
Over these past years, the seafood industry has been in a period of expansion due to the establishment of fishmeal factories. But concerns have been raised over the environmental hazards created by these private entities.
According to him, government should hold public hearings in Tanje, Sanyang, Gunjur and Tujereng with the view to allowing local residents to express their opinion on the issue of fishmeal factories that continue to trigger troubles in these areas.
“We expect the gov’t to take responsibility as these companies have created environmental degradation,” he said while indicating that the depletion of people livelihoods cannot continue.
These fishing areas, he went on, are affected by the activities of the foreign companies.
Lawyer Martin further stated that Senegalese, Mauritanian and Chinese are not doing much to satisfy the needs of the populace.
“The Gambian populace is always confronted with scarcity of fish as a good number of fishermen often travel outside the country to attend religious events,” he deplored.
Weighing in on the issue of unemployment among the youths, lawyer Assan Martin expressed the need for Gambia gov’t to take the bull by the horns and create more job opportunities.
In a move that was highly welcomed, the country’s environment body has put a halt to Golden Lead extension site construction.
“The National Environment Agency (NEA) has given stop notice to the Golden Lead on their new extension/expansion encroaching towards the women garden,” NEA spokesperson, Sheikh Alkingky Sanyang, told Freedomnewspaper in response to a request for comment. But he was quick to add: “The notice is not meant for the close down of operation of the company, but their new expansion.”
To many observers, the decision taken by the NEA will help de-escalate growing tension in Gunjur where environmentalists have been at loggerheads with the Chinese fishmeal company – accused of discharging toxic waste into the sea.
Written by Abdoulie John
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