By Tabora Bojang
Mbaye Jabang, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Environment Climate Change and Natural Resources, has vowed that the Gambia government will step up efforts to equip the National Environment Agency, police and other security forces to re-enforce the ban on use of plastic bags in the country.
PS Jabang said the process will entail partnerships between relevant technical and security institutions who would be embarking on a monitoring exercise in markets and corner shops across the country to re-enforce ban on the sale, use and manufacturing of plastic bags.
He admitted that even though the country outlawed the use of plastic bags in 2015 intended to stem the proliferation of plastic pollution, “not much success” has been registered to rid the country of plastic bags.
“Plastic waste management has been recent years a great concern to both the government and people of the Gambian. Its usage is so indiscriminate and widespread that even the most remote village in the Gambia has a cause for concern, it has caused the rural population and farmers a fortune in terms of economic loss as a result of their livestock dying eating plastic and their arable lands being degraded by plastic materials,” Jabang added.
“We have had episodes where we partnered with the police and security forces to re-enforce the enforcement of plastic bags where the staff of NEA go around to seize plastic bags from those who are contravening the law and prosecuting them. And this is something we are going to re-enforce,” PS Jabang announced at an event marking the celebration of world consumer rights day.
The annual event is organised by the Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission, under the theme “tackling plastic pollution,” where several Gambian plastics recycling start-ups were invited to showcase their products.
According to PS Jabang, the Gambia should by now be commemorating “Gambia no plastic day” than the current proliferation of plastic bags in our shops and markets across the country.
He stated that the Gambia is far behind other countries on the continent like Rwanda, saying “if you go into their streets you feel like nobody is using plastics.
“But it is an effort by government partners and all and sundry that makes that possible. So the enforcement and ban are only as good as how we uphold them as citizens to ensure a clean environment.”
The Executive Director of the GCCPC, Amadou Ceesay stated that the consumption and production of plastics, especially single use plastics has become “unsustainable.”
Ceesay provided some worrying trends of the menace which estimated that by 2025 there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans.
He also disclosed that 100,000 marine mammals and turtles and 1 million seabirds are killed by marine plastic pollution every year.