By Yerro Ba
No one can tell you anything about mining in The Gambia except the President. Many fear even if Oil is discovered in The Gambia, it will be a similar situation. The wealth will belong to only one person.
The Kartong situation must be understood as a spontaneous one. The youths of Kartong have written letters to authorities to stop the mining of sand especially in their farmlands. The grievance is that the agreement stated that a percentage of the income goes to Kartong which is not being honoured. Thirdly, the youths are being made aware by the PDOIS [People’s Democratic Organization for Independence and Socialism] during their community engagement exercise that if they are at the helm of affairs, a percentage will be provided to the village for development purposes and that’s what should happen with all governments.
The youths took a copy of their letter to Foroyaa which has made it known that it is a right for Kartong to get a share of whatever is being accrued from the mining there. Consultations have been made to the extent that youths had no hope that justice will be done. So the youth decided to take the bull by the horn by stopping the drivers from tipping sand. The drivers called the authorities who sent in security and a spontaneous fracas did take place between the youths and the security. Of course the youths did not seek advise before they take action. It is their impatience that justice is not served, perhaps based on their experience.
Kartong is isolated from the next big village Gunjur who like Sanyang and Bato Kunku are equally affected by mining and there was no communication between the villages, but all are aware and are not happy with what is happening there.
Sidia Jatta [former National Assembly Member for Wuli West] once asked the president in Parliament as to how much is accrued for government from the mining in this coastal areas but Isatou Njie Saidy told him the mining activity is a private business, meaning government gets nothing from it. So the truth is government gets nothing from the mining of minerals from these areas. The Geology department is not in control of what obtains there, according to my sources the Gambian leader can tell you something about it. A similar thing obtains in Badari in Tumana district where a mineral was found in a nearby bush. Now a White person is working with a team and mining there for over 4 years now on a continuous basis. No one can tell you anything about mining in The Gambia except the President. Many fear even if Oil is discovered in The Gambia, it will be a similar situation. The wealth will belong to only one person.
It is good that the youths have shown that they are not only aware of the wrongs but they are oppose to what obtains in their environment. The sad thing is those who want to make a political capital out of it are not helping the youth cause. The youth are not interested in the politics of it but the economics of it. Infact they said they have not engaged in protest or riot. So it may just have been a fracas and how it happens will be explained in court.
The young people are always involve in protest of one sort or another. Haven’t the UTG students not marched against the increase of fees at the university? The state is always negotiating with them to calm them. Are they not negotiating with the elders of Kartong to calm the young people? We have to see things as evolving because they are interconnected rather than thinking that one incident will be responsible for sparking protest for change. The work of educating and enlightening the people must go on.