By Madiba Singhateh
Dutch couple Bonne Bergsma and Wieker De Jong, said they are now engaged in cleaning Gambia’s beautiful beaches every year, when they come to the country for holidays.
The couple urged Gambians to do the same in order to restore the fading glory of the country’s beautiful sandy beaches as a shiny and ‘smiling coast’ destination that has attracted millions of tourists over the years. Bonne said they have been visiting the Gambia for seventeen years now, and have since kept coming to this shiny and ‘smiling coast’ tourist destination twice every year. The couple told this reporter that they were attracted to the country for the first time because of the beautiful white sandy beaches at the time; that the country’s sandy beaches used to be very shiny because of how clean they were.
However, the couple cannot hide their disappointment to this reporter, regarding the present condition of the country’s beaches. They indicate how filthy and dirty the country’s beaches are, littered with plastics, empty tin cans, discarded old fishing nets and filth of all sort; that this can be very dangerous for the people of the country and human and marine life that come into contact with this rubbish thrown on the country’s beach; that a lot of fish catches lands on the beach and people come to buy these fish for home consumption.
‘‘We all have a role to play in cleaning the country’s beaches. These are some of the reasons we have to show the local people why there is need to clean the country’s beaches. There is a lot of business activity that goes on the country’s beaches and we the tourist also come here to enjoy the clean sandy beach and sunlight, that we do not have in our country. However, what I have seen these past years has not been encouraging and this can drive us to look for cleaner destinations in the future, if the beach pollution in the Gambia continues,’’ the couple said.
Mr. Bonne said they do the clean-up exercise for the future of the country’s children; that human beings should preserve nature and the climate; that sea levels are rising and the patterns of rain fall are changing including rising temperatures; that all this is due to pollution and waste emissions created by people.
The couple said they invited this reporter to witness their beach cleansing exercise because they want to send the message to Gambians through this medium; that they are also ready to provide the needed support to make sure that the country’s beaches remain clean.
The couple indicated to this reporter that their mission to the country is to enjoy their holidays in a clean atmosphere where they can get adequate sunlight on a clean sandy beach; but that in their recent years of coming for holidays to the country, they have cleaned the beaches on all occasions; that they cannot stop the foul smell that pollutes the beach area because of the pollution that emanates from nearby fishmeal factories.
The couple said the people in Tanji who depend on fishing, have less catches nowadays because of climate change and over fishing.
‘‘We want people to be aware of their environment,’’ they told this reporter; that they cannot clean the whole world but they want people to hear what they are doing which is important for both marine and human lives that depend on each other for survival.