It was in July 2015 that KMC Mayor Yankuba Colley signed a 2.2. million euros contract with the CEO of JMP company Mario Pratolongo from Italy for a special project to address Bakoteh dumpsite. The National Roads Authority together with the Ministry of Works was tasked to oversee the implementation of the project. The singing ceremony was witnessed by KMC councilors and community leaders.
Yet more than two years down the line KMC now says they never received the 2.2 million euros! This information came out since March this year when Bakoteh and Manjai committee members confronted KMC for no action on the dumpsite.
Around the same time the Government of Adama Barrow decided to close the dumpsite after residents protested at the hazardous nature of the site. This was followed by dumping of waste in front of the Mayor’s office to further demonstrate the frustration of residents. The Government had said since early this year that they would identify another place or seek a solution to the problem. Since them nothing has happened. Meantime the indiscriminate dumping and lack of collection of refuse in markets and other places within the Kanifing Municipality is appalling!
Yet even though the site was said to be closed, it is now clear that indeed dumping continues to take place there. Consequently the dumpsite continues to release dangerous fumes into the SOS Children’s Village as well as in the surrounding communities of Bakoteh, Manjai, Dippa Kunda, Sanchaba, Sukuta, London Corner and beyond. Why is this taking place?
The continued presence of Bakoteh dumpsite and its attendant problems is a direct threat to the right to life and the right to health of Gambians within its vicinity. The Gambia Government has a duty by law to protect the lives and rights of Gambians hence this dumpsite is therefore nothing but a clear violation of the rights of Gambians to a healthy life perpetrated by none other than the Gambian State itself.
We cannot and must not allow Government irresponsibility to continue to damage the lives of Gambians. President Adama Barrow and his Minister responsible for the environment as well as the Mayor of KMC and the Director General of NEA and their families do not live within the vicinity of this dumpsite hence they face no threat from dangerous fumes. But they a have constitutional duty to make sure that no other Gambian citizen or families face such dangerous threat to their lives.
It is unacceptable that our public officers can secure clean and safe environment for themselves and their families yet allow other Gambian families to face direct and present danger to their lives. That is injustice and a violation of the human rights and human dignity of Gambians that must not be condoned in the New Gambia.
I therefore directly call on Pres. Adama Barrow and his Minister of Environment Lamin Dibba and the Mayor of KMC Yankuba Kolley and the Director General of NEA Muhammad Jama Suwareh to address this dumpsite forthwith.
Failure to do so, I call on all Gambians to rise up to protest at the utter irresponsibility and dereliction of duty by these public officers in contravention of our constitution.
Furthermore Bakoteh and Manjai citizens and their community associations must take this matter to court to demand urgent action. They must engage CSOs in the country so that we take the Gambia Government and KMC to court to fulfill their constitutional obligations as set out in our constitution and international law to which the Gambia is a party.
I am available for cooperation with any Gambian or group of Gambians that wish to pursue this matter to the courts immediately to ensure accountability.
For the Gambia, Our Homeland!