By Omar Bah
The Gambia Police Intervention Unit has taken over the Bakoteh dumpsite after it was reopened on Saturday under the directive of President Adama Barrow.
The police takeover came to effect after hours of negotiation between the ministers of interior and environment and other government officials failed to produce a solution.
Speaking earlier on the saga, the minister of interior, Mai Ahmad Fatty said there are possibilities that if the Bakoteh dumpsite remains close Kanifing Municipality and the country at large could face a serious health hazard.
“We are facing a potential epidemic in this country, but the community of Bakoteh also has serious concerns and the responsibility of government is to look at the overwhelming interest of the country and of the citizenry and that is the directive from the head of state who is constantly engaging with us in this matter,” he said.
He said President Adama Barrow has directed that every measure is taken in order to balance the interest of the community against the nation, “that’s what we have done today to engage the community extensively since 9 o’clock this morning talking to stakeholders.”
“The president has instructed that every measure be exhausted to make sure that the interest of the nation prevails. We are working on that and we will continue on the commitment of the president,” he added.
He said the issue of the Bakoteh dumpsite is not a problem created by government, “we are invited by the KMC who have prime responsibility of handling the situation over the past decade so therefore the government is coming and working at the invitation of KMC.”
“We have an immediate task which will be executed not only in the interest of the community of Bakoteh but all Gambians and we will implement that,” referring to the immediate reopening of the dumpsite.
Meanwhile, the KMC mayor Yankuba Colley said the closure of the dumpsite and the dumping of waste at his office doors was unfortunate and regrettable, “I have never thought I will experience such a thing in my life. They believe that I was part of the closure, but you know no one dares to do such a thing during the past regime.”
He said when the dumpsite was closed they have done everything they can to ensure that it is reopened, “but we were not listened to.”
The public relations officer of Trusted Associate, the group behind the closure of the dumpsite Rohey, said the youths want the government to listen to them but not to dictate them.
Meanwhile Mamma Kandeh, leader of the Gambia Democratic Congress and Halifa Sallah, secretary general of People’s Democratic Organisation for Independence and Socialism, both appeared at the disputed dumpsite to appeal for calm. Both leaders urged for dialogue to solve the problem.