May 22, 2015, 11:31 AM
Yankuba Colley’s office at Kanifing Municipal Council premises in Kanifing was
turned into a site of dumping waste and garbage on Saturday by a group of youth
The incident occurred in the wake of a cleansing exercise, ‘Setsettal’, at the Serekunda market organised by a development oriented group called GamSense, and some other women and youth empowerment groups.
The wastes and rubbish collected from the market were dumped right in front of the Mayor’s office, in protest and as a show of frustration, as the youth were prevented from dumping the garbage at the Bakoteh dumpsite by a combative youth community mainly from Bakoteh and Manjai.
“We cleaned everything from in and around the market, and then took the wastes to the Bakoteh dumpsite, but the people of Manjai/Bakoteh prevented us from dumping and were even ready to fight us,” said Fatou Drammeh, a fruit vendor at ‘Sandika’ in Serekunda who was involved in the cleansing exercise.
“The Interior Minister, Mai Fatty, was called to intervene; he came but the people wound not still allow us to throw our garbage at the dumpsite. It was then we decided to go to the KMC headquarters to dump it there; some of the garbage was dumped at Serekunda–Westfield market junction.”
Neneh Camara, another vendor who was involved in the cleansing exercise, said the only obstacle they had in the whole cleansing exercise was lack of dumping place.
“We spent the whole day cleaning only to be prevented from dumping the garbage collected from the exercise; this is frustrating and this is why we decided to dump it on the roads and at KMC.”
Two separate indoor meetings were held on the same day between the interior minister, Mr Fatty, and the youth leaders of Bakoteh/Manjai community at the Bakoteh Police Station and KMC headquarters, respectively but both proved futile as the community was adamant on its stand that the garbage would not be thrown at the dumpsite.
Rohey Njie, spokesperson for the Bakoteh/Manjai community, said they were willing to have a dialogue with the government, if the government would listen to their demands.
“Our demands are for the Bakoteh dumpsite to be shut down and let them [the government] take care of the garbage that is already there,” she said.
Ms Njie revealed that no agreement was reached between them and the government over the issue of the dumpsite.
“There was no solution to the meeting today,” she said.
On behalf of the Bakoteh/Manjai community, Ms Njie blamed KMC for the tension and mismanagement of the Bakoteh dumpsite area.
The people involved in the cleansing exercise, the majority of them women, chanted‘Yankuba is the cause of this problem; Yankuba is the cause of this problem’.
However, Mayor Yankuba Colley said KMC was not responsible for the closure of the dumpsite.
“We are not part of the closure of the dumpsite; KMC is not part of it. This is why we are appealing to the government to come to our aid and the people of this municipality,” he said.
More than 12 trucks and pick-ups loaded with garbage were prevented from reaching or dumping at the dumping site in Bakoteh by the youth of Bakoteh and Manjai communities.
The minister of the interior, Mai Ahmad Fatty, said there is a need for immediate solution to the dumpsite issue emhpasising that the interest of the communities of Bakoteh and all Gambians should be taken into consideration.
“We have an immediate task at hand and this immediate task will be executed looking at the best interests of not only Bakoteh but all Gambians,” he affirmed, adding that all the relevant stakeholders would be involved in the process.
“President Adama Barrow has directed that every measure and step be taken in order to balance the interest of community against the interest of the nation,” he added.