By Alagie Manneh & Olimatou Coker
Following a week of mourning of the death of at least seven natives on a migrant boat at sea, the councillor of Old Bakau Cape Point, Lamin Dibba, has spoken about the tragic incident.
He said the recent increase in the back-way is because of the presence of foreign fishing trawlers in Gambian waters.
The councilor explained that these foreign fishing vessels “over exploit our water resources leading to low catches by the local operators” which in turn forced many young people from the town to give up fishing and embark on the Back-way journey.
“Foreign fishing trawlers have destroyed our sea. If you come to the beach at night, you will be shocked by the number of fishing trawlers you would see in our waters. This has greatly contributed to the revival and increase in the back-way. So, the government is not doing enough to control these foreign fishing trawlers and ensure the employability and future of our young people are safeguarded,” Mr Dibba said.
He stressed the significance of the waters to the lives and livelihoods of the people of Bakau, calling for tighter measures to secure “the natural resource from exploitation”.
“Today, if you go to the market, the price of fish is very expensive. As a result, people are now relying on imported chicken as a means of survival, but even that is becoming more expensive. Consequently, we as the local authority can only sensitise our boys on the dangers of the back-way, but we can’t stop them,” Mr Dibba said.
He said the government must prioritise the issue of youth by allocating half of the national budget to address their cause and make the issue of backway a thing of the past.
Adama Drammeh, 17, from Bakau Farokono, was among those reported to have died in last Tuesday’s tragedy.
His family told The Standard of his character, saying he was a good Muslim full of love and was in the middle of his Quranic studies.
“There was nothing left for him here, and he wanted to self-actualise and uplift us from our current predicament of hardship,” a family member said.