National Assembly Members on garbage situation

By Louise Jobe

The situation of indiscriminate dumping, poor waste management and bad drainage systems are increasingly becoming problems for Gambia`s city and municipal councils.

On Friday`s National Assembly sittings, the PPP Banjul South Member Fatoumatta Njie and PDOIS` Halifa Sallah of Serrekunda questioned Lamin Dibba the Minister for the Environment, Climate Change and Natural Resources on measures taken by the government to deal with the ‘hazardous’ waste situation in the capital city, Banjul. And, the Serrekunda metropolis particularly the Bakoteh dump site.

In her question to the minister, Honourable Fatoumatta Njie said “the issue of environmental hazard is ‘appalling’ in Banjul. The few to name are the drainage, the sewage, the gutters, the thrash and the issue of the plastic ban, which we assume might have been an elective law of the former regime.”

Description: Description: Description: Streets of Banjul

The garbage situation in the streets of Banjul. Pic @ Malik Kah

Honourable Njie asked for the Minister to inform the National Assembly measures taken to ensure the environment in Banjul is habitable particularly during the rainy season when people are susceptible to illnesses.

Minister Lamin Dibba replied that measures to be taken by his Ministry to make any place habitable “will have to do with giving necessary technical advice” on waste management and related environmental matters.

He said: “Thus, we will continue to work closely with all MDAs, especially Ministry of lands, Ministry of Works, and councils to ensure that proper drainage system and regular collection and disposal of waste are in place to make the city of Banjul environmentally healthier.”

For Honourable Halifa Sallah, he asked whether the Minister is aware of the crisis surrounding the solid waste at the Bakoteh dump site, if so, what measures are being undertaken by the ministry, to ensure best practice in the disposal of waste in the country, in collaboration with the councils.

Minister Lamin Dibba

Dibba responded that he is aware of the garbage situation of the Bakoteh dump site. He explained his ministry have observed that the Bakoteh is within the center of three communities including Manjie Kunda, Bakoteh and Tube Town. And, added that “smoke and stench are common features” of the Bakoteh dump site.

Dibba said:

“There are schools, commercial premises, clinic and dwellings within the vicinity.

“Pupils of these schools are continuously exposed to the smoke and stench emanating from the site during school hours, as well as the continuous exposure of the communities.

“The site is a constant nuisance the surrounding communities and traffic.

“In view of the above, we have made the following recommendations and we are currently working with the Ministry of Lands and Regional Administrations, under whose purview councils are to implement the following:

  • Bakoteh dump site be totally fenced and secured from scavengers and by-passers.
  • Rigorous security control of the site to ensure that the site is secured from any form of intrusion.
  • Bull-dozer /shovel vehicle be stationed at the site to manage the daily dumps and tidying the site.
  • A Memorandum of understanding has been signed between the municipalities and Fire and Rescue Services, so that when there is any kindling they could be called to put it off in order to prevent smoke emission.
  • Each day’s dump should be spread, flattened and covered with a thin layer of sand to prevent stench emission and burning too.
  • Bakoteh dump site to be transformed into a transit point, where sorting of waste and recycling can be done for all wastes coming from Banjul and kanifing municipality.
  • A final disposal site to be identified by the Ministry of lands for the Greater Banjul Area for safe disposal of waste.