The Chinese company saga

24

I have already written about the damage the Chinese Company, Golden Lead Factory is doing in Gunjur and its surrounding towns and villages. But that, Mr President, was before I knew the extent of the damage. I now know that the damage is worse than I initially imagined.

Yesterday, a comrade of mine, who happens to be from the area and is involved in activism against environmental degradation sent me images of the river in that area and a report on the activities of this horrible company. To say that I was shocked would be an understatement. This is so terrible that I can say it is unspeakable.

The wildlife in that area is dying due to whatever poisonous chemicals these people have thrown into the water. Mr President, I can even say that no one is safe in this country now. The fish caught in those coastal towns are sold and consumed in all markets in the urban area and as such, we are all eating fish that possibly might have been poisoned by these Chinese.

I have received reports that the company issued a press statement denying all culpability in this disaster. They are said to have claimed that they are licensed to operate by GIEPA and the Ministries of Fisheries and Trade of this country. Mr President, this statement was issued on the 22nd May, 2017 and still now, we haven’t heard from any of the government departments mentioned above.

I wrote on this issue last time I sought to remind you that the first responsibility of a govement is to protect its citizens. If therefore a foreign company comes to our country and wreaks havoc on our ecosystem, our health and then is allowed to just pack up and go home, then your government would have failed in one of its most fundamental duties and responsibilities – the protection of citizens.

One would have expected that immediately the Chinese Company made that statement, the government departments concerned would come out and tell us their side of the story. Does their silent not show that the Chinese are right? Or, does it show that they do not care what happens to Gambians?

Mr President, we have passed a stage where we will allow every Tom, Dick and Harry would come and play with our intelligence and go scot free. We must set an example that we are ready to protect our own, that we care what happens to our citizens. Allowing this company to close down without paying for the damage they have caused will be setting a bad precedent, and that we cannot afford to do. We must take legal action against them.

I stand with the people of Gunjur, Kartong, Tanji and all the coastal towns to demand an explanation and, Now!

Author: Musa Bah