Bakoteh dumpsite: President Barrow calls for national consultative forum

Monday, July 30, 2018

Following a brief inspection tour of the infamous Bakoteh dumpsite, His Excellency President Adama Barrow has suggested a lasting and sustainable solution to the environmental hazard posed by the waste disposal ground. He said the satellite communities suffer a great deal from the dangers of the dumpsite, not least the children’s orphanage just opposite it.

His cabinet members accompanying him to the dumpsite included Dr. Isatou Touray, Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Lamin N. Dibba, Minister for Agriculture, Claudiana Cole, Minister for Education among other top government officials. The Mayor and his Senior Management Team were also at hand and they engaged in fruitful exchanges on the way forward.

“It is best if we hire a consultant to conduct a study and call a consultative workshop to map out a solution,” President Barrow said, telling the Mayor not to despair as promises made during campaigns come face-to-face with realities once in office. In the informal conversation that ensued between the President and Municipal officials, a visibly concerned President Barrow even proffered recycling of the waste into organic manure as an eco-friendly solution to the problem.

Speaking at a meeting held at Buffer Zone, the Mayor of the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), Ahmed Talib Bensouda, said government’s support in handling the issue of the Bakoteh dumpsite is quite urgent. According to him, the Municipality is host to half-a-million people, with 50,000 households.

Mayor Bensouda described President Barrow’s visit to the dumpsite “historic” as no other Gambian head of state ever did it despite reaching a crisis situation over a decade ago. The President wrapped his nationwide tour with meetings in the cities of Kanifing and Banjul.

“Waste management is our biggest problem in the municipality… KMC used to have a fleet of 30 tractors. Now, it is just 12 to serve the half-million residents,” Mayor Bensouda decried. He explained that is why the council needs government’s help to control the indiscriminate dumping around the city. The waste also clutters gutters and causes flooding, which is a source of public health menace when it rots within communities, he said.

“It costs the municipality D200, 000 per week to clear illegal dumpsites. This is why we are trying to acquire the 35 tractors under the jurisdiction of the Commission of Inquiry. When we do, it will create 1,000 jobs and facilitate door-to-door collection of waste in the municipality,” he added.

In Banjul on Friday, Mayoress Rohey Lowe lamented similar waste situations. Minister of Local Government, Musa Drammeh revealed that a site has been identified around the coastal settlement of Sanyang for a new waste dumpsite. Minister Drammeh assured that the new site will not only be used for a dumpsite but also as a recycling facility for a sustainable management.