By Hatab Nyang
Tourists residing or visiting Paradise Beach on Tuesday, the 19th of November 2019, complained to this reporter about the bad odour they inhaled at the Beach in Sanyang.
The tourists alleged that the bad odour that they inhaled came from Nessim Fishmeal Factory (NFF) located at Sanyang Beach commonly called Paradise Beach (PB) in Kombo South District.
Paradise Beach is a popular spot for tourists who visit the area regularly. Muhammad Ash, a Kenyan residing in the United Kingdom (UK) with his wife have been coming to Sanyang for the past ten years. He said Sanyang serves as a home to him.
Ash emphasized that he is not comfortable with his new experience in Sanyang, claiming that the odour that is coming from NFF is horrible and unbearable.
“We bought a place here some years ago which is about 3 kilometers away from the beach, but the bad smell is too much and is preventing us from going there,” he said.
He said he hardly goes to the beach now because dead fishes are all over the place.
He said they were planning to build an orphanage for the people of Sanyang, but the odour is really distracting them.
Mrs. Ash, the wife of Muhammad Ash also spoke about her dissatisfaction with the odour purportedly coming from the NFF especially during the evening.
“We loved Paradise Beach before because of its cleanliness, but now the dead fish and the bad odour are horrendous,” she said.
Mrs. Ash added that the smell is terrible even though they are about 3km away from the beach.
“Last evening when I came out from my house to pray outside, I couldn’t do so because of the bad odour coming from the factory, I had to put a scarf on my nose in order to be able to pray,” she said.
Dave Hindle, a tourist from the United Kingdom (UK) said he and his wife Catherine have been coming to the Gambia since 2003.
“When we were newly coming for holiday in the Gambia, we met local guides who asked us to try and visit Paradise Beach, which sounded interesting because paradise is claimed to be in heaven. This is about 12 years ago,” he said.
He said ever since they always stay in Rainbow Beach Bar and Restaurant in Sanyang beach whenever they come for holiday, two or three times every year.
“In one of our holidays we saw the Golden Lead Fishmeal Factory (GLFF) was operating in Gunjur and we said to ourselves, ‘we don’t want to see similar operations in Sanyang beach which could destroy this beautiful and well relaxed beach’.
“When the fishmeal factory started to operate in Paradise Beach, we found out that the smoke from its chimney was not the same as the fish smoking houses in Tanji. The smoke from the factory is like the smell of a rotten flesh/dead smell. Just in the last few days it’s been very bad especially during the evening when we are having your dinner at the restaurant on the beach. It’s difficult to eat your food in the midst of this bad smell from the fishmeal factory and the smell remains in the area and when you go to your room, everywhere smells bad. It is even difficult to sleep as the smell is so unpleasant,” he complained.
He said their wish is to see the factory close so that the odour will not disturb them anymore.
“We’ve been coming for quite a while now and we remember when it didn’t smell, but for any new tourists who have never been here, if they arrived in a day or evening when the smell is so bad they will look at each other and say ‘why are you coming here?’ And they won’t come back if it is their first time to visit the Beach,” Mr. Hindle elaborated.
He said they witnessed when some tourists came for the first time this year and they met them in Rainbow Beach Bar and Restaurant (RBBR) and they said they will sleep there that night, but the following day they left due to the bad odour.
He added that the problem in terms of tourists businesses around the area is that the new tourists won’t come back and the number of old tourists visiting the area will dwindle slowly until there will be no tourists around the area if the fishmeal factory continues to operate.
He added that people working in the tourism sector in Sanyang beach either come from Sanyang or the satellite villages and they are responsible people helping their families back home; but that if the factory continues to operate, it will affect their earnings.
Mrs Hindle said her concern is the dead fishes along the beach.
She said in previous years when they came for holidays, they used to count one, two or three dead fish when doing their beach walk, but this year when they came in November, they counted hundreds of dead fishes along the beach, saying this will drive tourists away.
Lamin Jawla commonly called Jawla, the owner of Rainbow Beach Bar and Restaurant said since the inception of the fishmeal factory along Sanyang beach, the number of tourists visiting Sanyang has declined.
He added that many tourists have told him that if the factory continues to operate, they won’t come back to the area.
Residents of Sanyang protesting against the operation of the fishmeal factory early this year.