By Tabora Bojang
Gambian-Swedish parliamentarian Momodou Malcom Jallow who is presently on visit to the Gambia Sunday met officials and residents of the Gunjur Development Association as residents continue to raise concern over the rate of sand mining, coastal erosion and other environmental constraints in the coastal setting.
Residents of the coastal setting have been experiencing series of complications regarding the environment, having expressed dissatisfaction of the continuous activities of mining companies.
Lamin Jammeh, an environmentalist and resident of Gunjur said with the exception of one buffalo area all the sand dunes in coastal zones from Tujereng, Kartong to Gunjur are mined and “there is no other sand dune that will protect the rising of the sea level to prevent coastal erosion”.
“The place is totally changed into swamps allowing mosquitoes to breed and disappeared several species of animals, hence all the trees are cut down. The place is divided into different sections including a women’s horticultural area for gardening and rice growing and we have recorded more than 700 women who were not able to continue with their horticultural activities,” he said.
Mama Kaddy Bajo, the GDA spokeswoman in the Diaspora said the Association is founded by the people of Gunjur and its citizens in the Diaspora which aims to address social and environmental development issues.
She said many people are not aware of these “environmental damages” and Gunjur Development Association in partnership with their people in the Diaspora are engaging in series of activities all geared towards educating their people by coming up with multi- purpose youth centre that will create platforms for the people.
Speaking to The Standard after series of activities and visits, Jallow, an activist himself, said: “I am here to listen and see some of the problems that they have been facing and see what I can do to raise awareness but also make sure this is visible to the international community. I also plan to raise the issue in my meetings with the responsible ministries and institutions to see what we can do to protect the community, the wild life and the nature in this country.”
According to his statement, the new Gambia is trying to revive the economy by looking into private sector investment and entrepreneurship to create jobs and observed that there need to be “policies that will protect the communities and the people. Investors cannot just come and invest to make profits and disregard the health environment and socio-economic conditions of the people.”
He said hence people feel the freedom to speak up, young people of the Gambia are extremely vibrant, empowered and well educated. “It is imperative they (youths) be given right platforms they need to speak so they will have the possibilities to explore on issues that are concerning every Gambian and the country as a whole.
“I am quite confident that if we provide them with the necessary structures and institutions to support the work they are doing, the Gambia will be one of the best countries to live, but we still have a long way to go. I have met politicians and policy makers and each and every one of them has shown resilience and commitment for change. So all we need to do is move away from rhetoric to real action and that is something I’m ready to play my part in,” he said.
The former city Councilor in Malmo assured officials of the GDA commitment to engage necessary institutions and donors to facilitate some form of funding for the Association while expressing delight for their commitment and hard work.