THE FAILURE TO EMPLOY COMMUNITY POLICING STRATEGY IN KARTONG
High grade State administration depends on principles and strategic objectives not on individual whims and caprices. The development in Kartong does not appear to be a by-product of any political or criminal conspiracy. One doubts whether any had the premeditation to commit crime. This letter is being addressed to you not to score political points but to partly prove that the conflagration in Kartong emanated from the lack of employment of community policing principles and strategies and further show how differences in principles and strategic objectives could give rise to diametrically opposed results.
First and foremost, those of us who know what happened in Kartong before and after the clampdown would confirm that the security forces did not go to Kartong to provide security for the sand mining area but were called to protect a village leader who felt under threat. At no time during the clampdown was the mining area protected by armed security personnel.
For your information, the media had already reported expression of dissatisfaction against environmental degradation and a determination by residents not to leave any stone unturned to curb the practice. However, this goal which unifies most of the residents in Kartong, if not all, was being pursued in a gradual manner with different approaches being debated in the public space, which some may have used to ring the alarm of an impending crisis.
Any government which is sensitive to public concerns would have read the writings in the Press and employ preventive mechanisms to address the grievances rather than allow them to reach boiling point. Government-in-action is also a factor in diagnosing the cause of the crisis.
Secondly, Community policing principles requires the security forces to put the community first. Hence, whenever there is to be deployment within a community where there is a standoff free from any violent confrontation the most senior commander should have the role to get down first before any deployment to visit the head of a community and invite the community for a discussion. We are convinced that if this was done we would not have the situation we have today. In this regard, failure to employ community policing principles and strategies is also a Factor to consider.
In our view, your government has a special responsibility in handling issues affecting young people. Many have left the country and your position is that they have no cause to leave. Would you be able to say the same if the Kartong youth are incarcerated for no other reason than having concern for their environment and being at the wrong place at the wrong time when tension was building up without anybody using appropriate measures to defuse it?
Finally, allow us to emphasise that failure to put directive principles in place aimed at guiding how mineral resources are harnessed has led to the type of degradation of the environment which obtains in Kartong.
To address the problems raised by the community of Kartong your government should acquaint itself with the fundamental principles and strategic objectives PDOIS has elaborated regarding the environment and mining areas in Agenda 2016 as far back as 2014 which you may find instructive.
We emphasised that under a PDOIS government we will
“Manage air, land and sea in such a way that liberty and prosperity will be enhanced without putting into jeopardy the liberty, dignity and prosperity of future generations through improper management.”
Furthermore, we endeavour that
“A National Environment Commission will be established and given an unhindered mandate to ensure that environmental impact assessment is conducted and given consideration before any project is implemented.”
We added that we will
“Integrate environmental impact assessment before any action is taken that could affect the environment at village, district, regional and national level.”
In terms of benefits from mining and other extracting industries we wrote:
“The Public Sector will mobilise Sovereign National Wealth from mining and other extracting industries; dividends from public enterprises and other public investments. Heavy minerals such as Illmenite, Rutile and Zircon have been found in the coastal strip of BatoKunku, Sanyang and Kartong by Carnegie minerals before it ended its operations in The Gambia. There are also prospects for oil production and other minerals.”
We emphasised that “Earnings from minerals, royalties and dividends shall be paid into a Sovereign National Wealth Fund for public sector investment in public enterprises , cooperatives and joint private public enterprises, maintain services, finance sustainable loans, build infrastructure, replenish our reserves and protect the value of national currency.”
We added that “A sovereign Wealth fund will be maintained by village Councils, District Councils and Regional Councils into which a percentage of income from minerals in a given area, or royalties from use of natural resources of an area and other incomes will be deposited to promote the development of the respective sectors. The percentage to be awarded to each sector will be determined by negotiation and legitimised through contract.”
To conclude, there is no doubt that if the government had such principles and strategic objectives the Kartong crisis would have never seen the light of the day.
What justice and common sense demand is for the Attorney General to file nolle prosequie and discharge and release those arrested and hold meetings with the villagers to address their concern. On Saturday one counted over 200 trucks moving to and from Kartong to load sand. The villagers have real concerns of not getting benefits from the exercise.
If you fail to address the concerns of the villagers we will use it as an election platform in our bid to unseat your government and put one in place that would address the aspiration of the villagers.
Of course, some in the Diaspora have been demanding action from the opposition in support of the youth. We hope they do not expect PDOIS to mobilise its members to go to Kartong to stop the trucks. We believe, as always we have given the solidarity that should be given to persons and communities without partisan consideration. History will keep the records and posterity will pass its judgment.