By Mustapha Jallow
Scores of fishermen at Sanyang beach landing site have on Friday called on the authorities to provide them with new fishing boats after a mob attacked and burned down six of their boats and fishing nets during last Monday’s violence.
The violence that erupted on 15th March 2021 resulted in confrontation between the youth of Sanyang and Police. A mob burned-down a Police station and a Fishmeal Company in the area. This incident happened after an alleged thief stabbed and killed one Gibril Ceesay, aged 30, on Sunday night.
Following the incident, young people set ablaze fishing boats and materials. During the attack, other fishermen decided to stop work and run for their lives.
Some fled and sought refuge at Batokunku, while others sought protection from their colleagues in Sanyang. These fishermen, who were licensed to operate in the area, were frustrated and worried in the wake of the incident.
During a second visit to this site on 19th March, the reporter observed machines, fishing nets and 6 boats were burned by the rioters.
Few fishermen returned and cleaned the debris. They were seen repairing some damaged materials. It was observed some of the boats were not torched. And a sight of uncertainty was all over their faces.
Before the attack, the landing site was a busy place. Selling and buying of fish was the order of the day, but the area has been transformed into a ghost town.
Few women were seen on the ground preparing their dried fishes. Some fishermen said they were yet to start operation.
Most of the fishermen said they were unfairly treated and discriminated as they had nothing to do with the circumstances leading to the breakdown of law and order in the community.
Military personnel were deployed at the landing site and others at the Nissim Fishmeal Company’s gate. They were patrolling the area with guns. The paramilitary were also seen at the area. It was under tight security.
Batch Jobe, a Senegalese fisherman and a victim of the attack, said his boat and machine were burned by the attackers.
“I spent 20 years in Sanyang and I married my wife here too. So I rely on this boat for our survival. I used to take care of my wife, mother, sisters and others in the community from the money I earned from my work,’’ he said.
Jobe thus called on the authorities and NGOs to help him with a new boat and machine, so that he can continue his job. He added his fishing nets were also burnt.
“Now, I only come to the beach to watch the environment and then go back home before the night. If my boat was not burned, I will not be sitting here. I’m a hard working person and I rely on fishing for my survival,’’ he said.
Ndlawar Saye, also a victim whose boat was burned during the incident, said the collective punishment meted out to them was painful and rendered them jobless.
Saye said the little he managed to save before the attack is what he is using for his survival. He called on the authorities to support them to restart their businesses.
Modou Sowe Mbye, a fisherman said some of their colleagues fled to Batokunku, while others went to Brufut.
“We decided to return here because we were told security personnel were deployed here,’’ he said.
Mbye said he spent 30 years in Sanyang and that kind of violence had never happened in the area. He said he relied on fishing for his family’s feeding.
Meanwhile, most of the elders and fishermen at the fishing landing site fled to Batokunku during the attack on Monday. The Fishmeal Company was undergoing renovation, but the place remains under tight security.