Over two years after its installment, the Tanji ice plant that has loyally served fishermen and fishmongers in the country’s biggest fishing hub for years, has rested in redundancy.
Though the fishing town has several private ice plants but locals said those plants were never a replacement of their spoilt ice plant in both quantity and quality of ice production.
“The machines of the ice plant have a problem… It has a problem for over 2 years now. This has affected our ability to get enough ice blocks for our fish though we have some private ice plants. In fact, the quality of the ice that our redundant ice plant produces is better than that of the privately own ones. It even causes scramble for ice blocks,” Sainey Manneh, representative of fresh fish vendors in the Tanji fish landing site’s management committee, said.
One native of the town who was working at the ice plant told this site that the plant was producing 10, 000 kilos of ice daily, thus helping to preserve tones of fish that washes the shores of the town’s coast line every day.
The gentleman, who has asked not be identified in the story, said the plant has also been generating money for the local committee.
Manneh also said they are equally grappling with a problem of storage facility where they could keep their unsold fish fresh for a reasonably good length of time.
“We don’t also have a storage facility— if we have a cold storage facility, our fish can be kept for long if we could not sell all” he said.
“… As things are right now, you either sell your fish or smoke it otherwise it will rot if it stays with you for long without ice.”
In goods days, manneh said, the Tanji fish landing site produces thousands of tonnes of fish which supplies almost all fish markets in the country.
Meanwhile, another problem at the fish landing site, according to Manneh, is marketing.
“One of the biggest problems we have is the market… We usually have problems supplying the North Bank and Central River Region with fish—these places are usually supplied by Senegalese because they are closer to these destinations and they reach the markets earlier than Gambians from Tanji…The number of cars that travels fish to Basse and other places are more than 40 and there are many other small vehicles,” he said.
He added: “The higher cost of fish is partly because there is no central fish market here where people can go to buy fish, everyone comes to the fish landing site. As a result, the hustle to get enough fish creates an incentive for fishermen to increase the price and that becomes even worst when the fish available is not much. Majority of people come here to buy and that partly makes fish expensive even when it is in abundance here (Tanji).”
The Gambia’s fishery sector is the third largest food provider after agriculture and livestock and it is a source of employment for an estimated 200,000 people, directly and indirectly.