Gunjur seeks D15 mln compensation from Golden Lead

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Gambian coastal fishing town of Gunjur is dragging a Chinese company to court over violation of environmental laws, barely two months after the government has reached an out of court agreement with the same company on the same charges.
 
In a lawsuit The Torch seen filed at the country’s high court in Banjul and expected to commence tomorrow, the people are asking for 15 million dalasis ($329,589) compensation for the damage done to their environment.
 
About two months ago, Gambia National Environment Agency has dragged the fishing meal processing company Golden Lead to court over their alleged violation of the environmental laws of the country.
 
The company has been charged with withholding information about management of waste, discharging substance of waste water into the sea, polluting the environment and failure to keep record of their company activities.
 
They denied any wrongdoing.
 
Golden Lead came under huge criticisms by environmental activists and residents of Kartong and Gunjur who accused the company of disposing off suspected toxic waste into the sea via pipes, resulting in the washing ashore of dead fish along the coastline
 
Activist said Gambia’s first Community Wildlife Reserve in the village of Gunjur, 35 kilometers from Banjul is facing depletion as its stream has turned red and wildlife found dead as a result of pollution.
 
Members of the two coastal villages affected by the company’s activities and environmentalists have held many demonstrations, calling on the government to relocate the Chinese company as well as stop the building of a similar company in nearby village of Kartong.
 
Over a thousand petitioners have called on President Adama Barrow to intervene and stop the activities of the Chinese company accused of pollution prior to their legal actions.
 
However, a week after government’s legal action against the company, the state announced they have reached an out of court settlement and Golden Lead will withdraw its pipes from the sea.
 
But an environmental activists from Gunjur, Ahmed Manjang, who is a microbiologist that did the population study and got the test done in Germany, said that the company has not remove its pipes from the sea.
 
Analyst said the legal battle against the Chinese company was halted because it presented a special discomfort to the Barrow administration that has renewed its ties with Beijing.
 
Banjul recognised Beijing as the seat of China’s government over former ally Taiwan in March 2016, but the Asian giant was already one of the small nation’s top trading partners.
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