Gambian authorities have deployed riot police to a dumpsite shutdown by environmental activists over pollution and health scares, conservationists and residents say.
The armed police reopened the gates of the Bakoteh dumpsite and allowed garbage trucks to dump waste in the landfill, where they are burnt.
The dumpsite was forcefully opened following a meeting with representatives of local residents, activists, and authorities, including three government ministers.
“We met with the ministers of Interior, Environment, and Local Government and the interior minister [Mai Ahmad Fatty} said he has two million people to secure and will not put them at risk,” an activist at the meeting said.
“I think we must not be part of the 2 million or he forgot to include us in that list, while we are already dying here.”
Smoke and horrible odor from the open landfill pollutes the environment and residents complain of being unable to breathe freely.
Residents came out and faced the police, screaming “we are tired” and “this must end” as they pour out their long frustration over the environmental disaster.
Several people have died of mysterious illnesses, suspected to be cancer or respiratory problems caused by the pollution from the Bakoteh Dumpsite.
Residents from the commercial city of Serrekunda on Saturday teamed up with activists to clean the community market that has been over taken by uncollected garbage.
In an apparent show of discontent, they dumped truck loads of trash at the Kanifing Mayor’s office for failing to properly manage waste.
Mayor Yankuba Colley accused activists of sabotage for closing the Bakoteh Dumpsite and had asked for government’s intervention to have it reopened.
Colley is up for re-election next year but announced he will not be running for a third term following yesterday’s show of resistance and defiance by his constituents.