The closure of Golden Lead Company has effect in many major fishing centers both in The Gambia and Senegal. Fisher folks lay idle, fish sales are down and unsold fish are dumped on the beaches because of lack of buyers.
Unsold fish dotted along the Gunjur beach after dumping
The company ceased work on Tuesday June 13, 2017 in the midst of allegations of pollution of the Gunjur Lagoon and prosecution of the company. The company was established 2 years ago in Gunjur by some Chinese investors whose primary focus is processing the fish into fish meal and oil.
At Gunjur, the beach has few people and few fisher folks went to sea to fish. Most of the fisher folks were seen sitting under a tree. It was also observed that the vehicles stood for longer hours before departing because of the small number of people on the beach. According to many of the dealers, they and their employees are been affected.
Apart from fisher folks and fish mongers and dealers, affected businesses include shopkeepers, restaurants, vendors, petrol stations, transport hirers, all feeling the pinch of the closure of the company.
Speaking to Foroyaa in her shop, a business woman said she usually goes home with a minimum of one thousand five hundred daily but since the closure of the company, it is very hard for her to get four hundred dalasi per day. She said the effect is not limited to only those who are involved in fishing but other sectors as well.
Alieu Touray a native of Gunjur and also an employee of Jah Oil Company said in the days prior to the establishment of the company, he struggles to sell 8,000 litres of petrol in 2 to 3 weeks whilst after the inception of the factory he sells that amount in not more than 4 days. He also said the company has brought in many developments and has attracted many people to venture into fishing and related activities.
Modou Colley, a member of the Gambia Navy said he was a fisher folk before joining the navy and knows what difficulties they faced in getting markets for their catch. He added that in those days when there was no factory at the Gunjur beach, they would sail as far as Senegal (Kafounting) to sell their catch. He further said after the factory was established, dealers in places where they used to sell their catch in Senegal are now coming to Gunjur to sell their fish. He takes that to be a great development for Gunjur and urges the authorities to come to terms with the company to solve the matter amicably.
The Company has attracted many fishermen both from the Gambia and Senegal but since closure, some have moved elsewhere whilst many lie idle. The Closure led to the Gunjur Beach being dormant where few fishermen go to fish whilst women sit on the shores of the sea. This company buys fish from fishermen from Gunjur and many other fishing centres.
Many of the fisher folks have called for the amicable resolution of the problem while noting the challenges they are encountering since the closure of the company. They all hold the view that the sea is the source of the livelihood of their families. In their plea for the problems to be solved amicably, they emphasized that the fish they catch daily cannot be bought by the people in the locality which results to the dumping of many fish on the beach.
“The quantity purchased is far below the catch,” they argue.
At the Tanji beach, dealers in fish said business is slow due to closure of the company in Gunjur which is the main buyer of their fish. They said since the closure, the majority of the fisher folks have moved to the river heading to Basse as the fishing boats are many. Many boat owners have returned to Kafounting in Senegal because their boats are large and the number of buyers in the area could not buy their daily catch. They all hold the view that they were attracted by the factory and urge the government to come into terms with factory owners to solve the problem amicably so that the source of employment of about a thousand people may not be put to a halt.
The Tanji beach was not congested with many vehicles as before. Many fishing boats were not operating and many people were seated at the Ice Plant.
Haban Jallow a fish dealer at Tanji said most of the boat owners have returned to Senegal because of the closure of the company. He added that he sells fish in both Senegal and Gambia and knows what effects the closure of the company has caused in the fishing sector of Tanji. He also said the work involves many stages, starting from fishing to selling to the company which serve as sources of income to many Gambians; noting that the closure will impact negatively on the employment of youths.
Pateh Jallow also a dealer in fish also made similar remarks.
On last Friday and Saturday, fish were dumped on the Gunjur shores because of inadequate buyers. Many of the fishermen said they are not going to sea because of the few numbers of buyers. They all urge the government to come to terms with the factory so that the situation can be put to a halt.
They said since the problem is purportedly pollution, the government needs to come up with solutions for the factory to comply so that work can start effectively.