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by Bridget Boakye, at 05:56 am, May 10, 2018, News

Chinese firm takes over Gambian coast in ongoing water pollution crisis

Chinese on the Gambian coast with their flag

In early 2017, stories of Golden Lead, a Chinese-owned factory operating in the Gambia trended widely in news reports. The factory had been accused of discharging toxic waste into a water body in the small West African country.

Environmentalists and residents in Gunjur, a small coastal town about 50km from the capital of Banjul, told reporters that hundreds of dead fish had been washing up on the lagoon since Golden Lead set up a fish meal factory in the town in 2016.  Moreover, the local stream now had a reddish color and people swimming in it suffered health problems.

Gambian Minister of Fisheries, James Gomez, however, blamed local fishermen for the pollution on the shores. “What we found out was that some fishermen were using wrong fishing gears to capture juvenile fish from the coastal waters. They decided to dump the fish in the coastal communities of Gunjur and Kartong,” he told local reporters.

The company was forced to pay a bond of 25,000 US dollars in June in an out-of-court settlement with the Gambia’s National Environment Agency over a similar accusation. The company was ordered to take immediate measures to treat its wastewater and pay for testing of already contaminated water.

But it appears that the company has not only failed to treat its wastewater but rather has strengthened its exploits. Recent developments such as an action taken by Gambian youths who reportedly removed the factory’s waste pumps that go directly into the sea for the company to have it reinstalled alongside the Chinese flag have ignited the scorn of social media users. This is especially because the youths were reportedly arrested for the action targetted at reducing pollution.

Evidently, the government is cracking down on those speaking out on the issue.

Still many remain vigilant and are calling for justice for the community and the young men.

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