By Fatoumata K. Jallow
School teachers and market vendors say the garbage, uncollected for two months, is blocking access to the schools and some parts of the market. They said that the stench emanating from the garbage was unbearable and parasites could be seen swarming the vicinity. They regarded the uncollected garbage as a serious health risk and a barrier to business activities. The garbage could be seen slowly creeping into the main road.
Speaking to Foroyaa on Friday, a teacher at the nursery school said the uncollected garbage was bordered by three important institutions; the lower basic school, the nursery school and the market. He added that they normally buy foodstuff from the market and would not be promoting good health by buying their food from a vendor selling beside a garbage dump.
He emphasised that the garbage had blocked one of the roads leading to the market making residents, close to the garbage lament the long route they have to take to access the market. He added that similarly school children have to take a long route to get to school which is very difficult for them, especially the nursery school kids, as they are very small to walk such long distances.
The teacher further said the garbage had not been collected for two months and had even caused part of the nursery school fence to collapse. He said that the fallen fence has since been replaced by corrugated iron fence but that this has not stopped contaminated water flowing from the uncollected garbage entering their school and forming a pool of infectious water, which is now a breeding ground for flies, worms and mosquitoes. He said this is not safe for nursery school kids. “Imagine a child of three to four years being in such a situation. Sometimes if the wind blows into the classroom, the children cannot learn and the teachers cannot teach. Flies that get into the classroom do sometime regurgitate and stain the drawings of the children who cannot use them anymore because of health reasons. Considering the health of the children, I do not see how we can resume school if things continue like this. To run the school in the circumstances would necessitate the closure of the entrance near the garbage for the health safety of the children, but that too is a risk because in the case of a fire outbreak, it can be very difficult for us,” lamented the teacher.
He said the school has written several letters to Brikama Area Council; that they also wrote to NEA who have assured them that the garbage would be collected.
Lamenting on the health of the children, the concerned teacher opined that not only must the garbage be collected but, that the place must not be used as a dump site because it is surrounded by three important places – the market and two schools.
He said they were suffering a lot due to the garbage dumped in the area. He added that when the garbage dump closed in to the former gate the school had to close that gate and open the one they are now using. He further added that the garbage d continued to expand and is getting closer to the new gate. He emphasised that learning cannot take place under such circumstances with about 300 children in the nursery school and 3,427 students learning in the primary school. Expressing his concern for the comfort and health of the children, he explained the dilemma of the school authorities. He said the children do go outside around the heap of garbage and they cannot control all of them. But that the closure of the gate to protect the children from health risks would lead them to safety risks in emergency situations such as fire outbreak.
Speaking to Foroyaa, Mariama Manneh, a vendor in the market, said the foul odour from the heap of garbage was unbearable. She opined that the foul odour was infectious and could ruin their health. She said lack of an alternative was all that is keeping her there otherwise she would have left a long time ago. She said some shops had closed because of the garbage dump.
Isatou Barry, another vendor in the market, also said the foul odour from the garbage was unbearable. “Many of us have no choice, otherwise we would have left but as at now I have nothing, my husband cannot do anything for himself. I have to continue selling to cater for our living, but if I contract a disease who will feed my husband and children? That’s why I cry every now and then. What if anything happens to me,” she asked. The emotional vendor could not hold back her tears.
Foroyaa will get in touch with the concerned authorities to get their views on the matter.