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Mayor Bensouda criticised over Bakoteh dumpsite comments

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By Omar Bah

A losing candidate in the 2017 Kanifing mayoral election, Baboucarr Jeng, has criticised Mayor Talib Bensouda’s claims that the council can no longer handle the Bakoteh dumpsite. Last week, the KM mayor urged the government to immediately relocate the dumpsite or face a looming waste crisis because his office cannot handle it.

But reacting to the mayor’s comments in a Standard exclusive, Mr. Jeng, who lost to Mr Bensouda in 2017, said: “It is disappointing to read on The Standard that Talib is shying away from responsibility and blaming government and pointing a finger at politics. To me, it is irresponsible because he has sufficient information about the dumpsite. There were two studies [on the Bakoteh dumpsite]; one is an independent study done by ARISKY and another one by the Municipality through Jackson M Senger.

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“All these studies were done for him to have sufficient information to create a roadmap towards remedying the place but all he pointed out is he has been fighting with the Ministry of Lands for relocation but relocating the dumpsite is not a good idea because when you look at the map, you are relocating the dumpsite to a place where people are going to live. No matter how many inhabitants are on that land, one fine day with the rapid growth of the population, people will eventually live there and they will suffer the same fate the people of Bakoteh are suffering today because 25 years ago, the Bakoteh dumpsite wasn’t that bad,” Jeng said.

He accused the KMC of failing to properly manage the dumpsite, saying waste management and dumpsite management are two completely different things.

“So Talib should be able to separate his emotions with the issues. We know he has gone through hell with the ministry of local government and central government but that said, I think he should come out and tell the residents of KM the truth about the dumpsite because he is aware of the fact that it is the scavengers living there who always put it on fire to access the metals dumped there,” he said.

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He said KMC should work on mechanisms to rehabilitate the dumpsite as an immediate strategy. “The fence erected there has not made much difference when it is put on fire by few people who are living there, benefitting from some of the wastes dumped there at the detriment of the masses,” he said.

He said the scavengers at the dumpsite should be engaged by the council to find a way of getting them employed. “There should be laws to prosecute people who are found wanting for starting fire on the dumpsite,” he said.

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