HALIFA COUNSELS BAKOTEH/MANJAI YOUTH

Halifa Sallah has said the new Gambia that should evolve now, is a Gambia where each citizen is sovereign and lives within a community of Sovereign citizens.

Sallah made this remark on Sunday, when he met with youths and other residents of the communities of Manjai and Bakoteh, when tension was diffused at the Bakoteh/Manjai dumpsite. This is the rest of what the honourable member for Serrekunda said to the communities of these two neighbourhoods:

‘‘The incident at the very beginning is potentially explosive and lives could be lost, injuries could be effected, properties could be damaged and that is not what we expect to happen in the new Gambia. When the country faced a political impasse, there was a reconciliation committee established which was charged with the responsibility of going to the communities and preventing conflict between members of different parties, so that the people will view the new Gambia as a Gambia of all. This is the Gambia for now and for the future where political parties will be able to exist and co-exist and strive to win the people in order to be able to manage the future of the country.  President Barrow was elected as an Independent presidential candidate and what all Gambians should know, irrespective of each person’s political affiliation, is that the country belongs to us. What you should do is, select a leadership which is not based on politics but which will look at the interest of the community they represent. If that leadership is selected, it will be able to go to any minister or department of state that they are concerned with or any national assembly committee, so those committees will be able to look at what has been said. The issue of the dumpsite is a concern for not only the people of Bakoteh but the whole nation and the Minister has concurred on all their concerns including the illnesses and its inconvenience before the law makers. He has mentioned certain points as action points. He said what you need to do is to get the Director of National Environment Agency (NEA) to put those points down as part of the negotiation so that the selected community leadership, will be able to read them one by one and discuss with them on those points as negotiation points.

As a community and since your main concern is the dumpsite, with an already established leadership what you need to do now is to take the action points of the Ministry of the Environment and discuss it as a community that this is what the Minister has already answered and put your opinion on each of those points to see whether they are practicable or not, actionable or not as the beginning of your negotiation. If you go to the executive to get redress and your issues are never solved, then you can proceed to the level of the National Assembly who will hear your pleas so that we can move towards a solution.

In the new Gambia, no one should believe that they are weak. Weakness is the starting place for frustration and protest. As a community facing challenges such as health issues with evidence, you have a right to take a lawyer and proceed to the High Court, rather than going to the streets. The court can give order that no one should dump at the site anymore. What is important is you have a right to life and how to ensure your right is by going to the courts to enforce it. The community should feel empowered and I urged you to feel that you are part of the Gambia. There is need for citizens to be enlightened citizens and be prepared for a solution as well as follow the right procedures,’’ he concluded.