Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Gunjur Youths Team Up to Fight against Environmental Degradation in Kombo South

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By Hatab Nyang 

A youth-led organization dubbed Concerned Youths of Gunjur (CYG) has denounced what it called the destruction of the environment by sand miners.

They recently held a conference at the Gunjur quarry to deliberate on their concerns.

CYG is a community based organization created to tackle issues relating to sand mining and other environmental disasters taking place in the Kombo South Coast, especially at the Gunjur quarry. 

Fabai Janneh, the press secretary for CYG, said they organised themselves so that they would be able to tackle the impact of the damage that is being done by sand miners.  He said their main concern is the road that links the community to the beach, where miners have conducted mining activities.

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“If you look at it, when the former President Yaya Jammeh was here, no family was claiming to sell a plot of land in these areas as it is a tourism development area. But now people organised themselves {particularly} the Kabilos (clans) and say the land belongs to them, and they sell it to miners,” he said.

Janneh called on the government to ensure the rehabilitation of the mined sites are done, citing the Bakoteh dumping site as an example where was used by the authorities to backfill the area.

“Maybe that can be beneficial in terms of manure, so that women gardeners who were chased away by miners can come back to do gardening again. Right now, crocodiles are in some of these mining areas that are full of water which is not safe for us and our children. This is one of the reasons we call on the media so that the government can be alerted,” Janneh said. 

Abou Bojang, a member of CYG, said their membership is up to 40 people and that their aim is to protect the coastline for the present and future generations. 

“We’ve been struggling for five to six years to having an agreement with the sand miners. Our aim and objective is for sand mining not to happen here. But because we cannot stop that, we appealed for them not to mine the only road leading to the beach. Our agreement with the miners was for the road to be 40 meters wide, but they have mined the area and the road has reduced to less than 20 meters. We planted trees along the borders of our agreement but when we left the area, they mined and destroyed everything,” he explained. 

Mr. Bojang was quizzed about the Gambia Tourism Board (GTA) billboard which bears instructions on both sides of the board, just about 100 meters away from the mining field.

“The TDA says the land reserve for tourism development stretches from Kotu to Kartong at a width of 800 meters inland from the high-water mark. The land was leased to the Central Government in 1969 by Kombo District Authority for a period of 51years and was subsequently extended to 99 years by the state land act of 1991. Currently, the lease is under the custody of GT Board 2011 PART IX (46). On the side of the board, it’s also written “No buying and selling, no tree cutting, bush fires, no dumping of waste and no illegal sand mining,” he explained.  

Eddy Gibba, also a member of CYG, dilated on the plight of the women who were at engaged in gardening before the miners took over the lands. 

“Those women were having their daily income from gardening and paying their children school fees from their returns, but the miners chased all of them away through their mining activities saying the land had been sold to them by Kabilos in Gunjur,” Gibba said. 

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