Gunjur, a coastal village in southwestern Gambia is demanding a D15 million dalasis ($329,589) compensation for the damage done to their environment by a Chinese fishing company.
They are dragging Golden Lead 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.
Gambian authorities had charged the fish meal processing company with withholding information about management of waste, discharging waste into the sea, polluting the environment and failure to keep records 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 of suspected toxic waste into the sea via pipes, resulting in the washing ashore of dead fish along the coastline.
Activists said Gambia’s first Community Wildlife Reserve in the village of Gunjur, 21 miles 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 and stop the building of a similar company in 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 activist from Gunjur, Ahmed Manjang, who is a microbiologist that did a pollution study and got the test done in Germany, said that the company has not removed its pipes from the sea.
Analysts 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 recognized 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.