By Madiba Singhateh & Mustapha Jallow
Authorities in various Government Departments have spoken by responding to the queries of Foroyaa reporters on the recent oil spill at the Mandinari fuel depot in Kombo North district.
Speaking to Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang, the Head of Communications at the National Environment Agency (NEA), his department is well aware of the oil spill and as the head of communications, he was the one who wrote a press release on the matter.
Sanyang further explained that a Joint Committee, comprising The Gambia Ports Authority, the Gambia Maritime Agency and NEA, recently held a meeting to look into the issue and will continue to meet today on the same matter. He promised to inform reporters on the outcomes of their meeting.
According to him, the Press Release which was dated on the 2nd of June 2022, informed the public that the said Committee and other relevant stakeholders are aware of an oil spill and all the necessary actions were being taken to address the situation; that it further stated that the said incident occurred on the 28th of May 2022, between the hours of 14:30-15:30.
He said the release disclosed that during a briefing with depot authorities, it was explained that 1,501.334 metric tons heavy fuel oil (HFO) was discharge from the Ship but the fuel depot just recorded 1,430.468 metric tons was received.
The release added that based on the fact that the difference between the quantities pumped by the Ship and the amount received by the depot was roughly 70.865) metric tons which approximately translate to 70,865 litres, it is therefore assumed that the difference is the quantity of HFO discharged to the shore.
Meanwhile, Lamin Camara, the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Petroleum and Energy was contacted to shed light on the issue and he informed reporters at his office that there was indeed an oil spill, with over 70 metric-tons spilled into the sea; that now both NEA and the Gambia Maritime Agency are acting to ensure that the environment is clean.
“The issue at hand is an environmental and maritime issue. We are a part of it because it is done in our sector. The petroleum people polluted the environment, so it is the environment agency that has a problem with us. But I know NEA and other stakeholders are looking into the matter since they have their strategic ways of solving the issue,’’ he said.
According to Camara, the Petroleum Ministry is also working and coordinating with the concerned stakeholders as a Committee but further stated that their Ministry is not directly responsible for the pollution.
PS Camara then referred reporters to NEA and Gambia Maritime Agency for a detailed account on the incident.
Our reporters also proceeded to the Gambia Maritime Administration to also hear their version on this burning issue. At their Office in Bijilo, one Bubacarr Drammeh, the Human Resource Manager disclosed to this medium that a team from his institution was sent to the spilled site in order to ascertain what happened.
According to him, the Joint Committee otherwise known as a Taskforce looking into this matter, visited the site and are currently working hand-in-glove to establish the facts surrounding the issue.
However, Drammeh said he cannot comment further because he felt he was not in a position to give a detailed account of the incident, noting that the Deputy Director for Maritime Administration, Governance and the Environment, is the right person to answer their concerns, since he was part of the team that visited the Mandinari depot, but unfortunately, he was out of the country.