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City of Banjul
Thursday, October 1, 2020

Letters to the Editor

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Bakoteh dumpsite is a violation of human rights of Gambians!

Dear editor,
It was in July 2015 that KMC Mayor Yankuba Colley signed a 2.2 million Euros contract with the CEO of JMP company Mario Pratolongo from Italy for a special project to address Bakoteh dumpsite. The National Roads Authority together with the Ministry of Works was tasked to oversee the implementation of the project. The singing ceremony was witnessed by KMC councilors and community leaders.
Yet more than two years down the line KMC now says they never received the 2.2 million euros! This information came out since March this year when Bakoteh and Manjai committee members confronted KMC for no action on the dumpsite.

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Around the same time the Government of Adama Barrow decided to close the dumpsite after residents protested at the hazardous nature of the site. This was followed by dumping of waste in front of the Mayor’s office to further demonstrate the frustration of residents. The Government had said since early this year that they would identify another place or seek a solution to the problem. Since them nothing has happened. Meantime the indiscriminate dumping and lack of collection of refuse in markets and other places within the Kanifing Municipality is appalling!

Yet even though the site was said to be closed, it is now clear that indeed dumping continues to take place there. Consequently the dumpsite continues to release dangerous fumes into the SOS Children’s Village as well as in the surrounding communities of Bakoteh, Manjai, Dippa Kunda, Sanchaba, Sukuta, London Corner and beyond. Why is this taking place?

The continued presence of Bakoteh dumpsite and its attendant problems is a direct threat to the right to life and the right to health of Gambians within its vicinity. The Gambia Government has a duty by law to protect the lives and rights of Gambians hence this dumpsite is therefore nothing but a clear violation of the rights of Gambians to a healthy life perpetrated by none other than the Gambian State itself.

We cannot and must not allow Government irresponsibility to continue to damage the lives of Gambians. President Adama Barrow and his Minister responsible for the environment as well as the Mayor of KMC and the Director General of NEA and their families do not live within the vicinity of this dumpsite hence they face no threat from dangerous fumes. But they a have constitutional duty to make sure that no other Gambian citizen or families face such dangerous threat to their lives.

It is unacceptable that our public officers can secure clean and safe environment for themselves and their families yet allow other Gambian families to face direct and present danger to their lives. That is injustice and a violation of the human rights and human dignity of Gambians that must not be condoned in the New Gambia.

I therefore directly call on Pres. Adama Barrow and his Minister of Environment Lamin Dibba and the Mayor of KMC Yankuba Kolley and the Director General of NEA Muhammad Jama Suwareh to address this dumpsite forthwith.

Failure to do so, I call on all Gambians to rise up to protest at the utter irresponsibility and dereliction of duty by these public officers in contravention of our constitution.
Madi Jobarteh
Boraba

Schooling is not education

Dear editor,
What is the purpose of education? To make good individuals or produce citizens? Has our schooling system, from independence to date, given us the education we need? Has it made us good individuals or prepared us as useful citizens?
A good individual may not necessarily be regarded as a useful or good citizen, politically speaking. Socrates was a good individual but those who forced him to drink the hemlock did not consider him a “useful citizen”. Can schooling give us education? Or most of the education we get are often outside the perimeters of the formal school?

“My own belief is that education must be subversive if it is to be meaningful. By this I mean that it must challenge all the things we take for granted, examine all accepted assumptions, tamper with every sacred cow, and instil a desire to question and doubt. Without this, the mere instruction to memorise data is empty. The attempt to enforce conventional mediocrity on the young is criminal…” Author Unknown
Nothing is more difficult, but more beneficial to self and others, than “thinking outside the box”, to do what Martin Luther King Jnr calls “maladjusted creativity”. Does our schooling system as it is prepare us to think asymmetrical too, to dot the lines outside of the box?

We must begin to churn out more critical, open and analytical minds through our education system, young men and women you would examine and question, who would distinguish the trees from the forest, who would be able to separate the chaff from the grain, who are able to examine issues as they are, uncoloured by academic pedantry, sophistry, demagoguery, polemics or snobbishness, and who have the capacity to grasp complex issues and reconcile opposite and diverse views and opinions and yet hold their heads high.
We must begin, though, to nourish the eyes and minds of our young with things intellectual, allow them to explore beyond the convention, urge them to question without fearing punishment, allow them to ‘rebel’ against what we think is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ so that they are able to form their own ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We kill many initiatives, many great idea, many sparks of ingenuity in the name of conformity and tradition.

Njundu Drammeh
CPA

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