Kartong accuses Gov’t of encouraging sand mining companies to destroy TDA

Kartong accuses Gov’t of encouraging sand mining companies to destroy TDA
By Sulayman Waan
The Village Development Committee (VDC) of Kartong has said the Gambia Government seems to be encouraging mining companies to destroy the Tourism Development Area (TDA) in the country’s coastline.

The Gambia Government through the ministry of Lands reserved about 200 metres away from the Atlantic Ocean as Tourism Development Area (TDA). However, mining companies has been licensed to mine the territory in some communities such as Kartong and Sanyang villages.
It could be recalled that recently Kartong VDC warned the Geology Department not to grand mining licensed to any company to mine its territory.
Following the call, the VDC addressed a letter to the National Environmental Agency (NEA) and several mining stakeholders reaffirming its commitment to protect their environment from degradation.

After addressing the letter, the VDC held a community meeting aimed at updating Kartong residents on its stand on the suggested mining.
Reading the letter address to NEA before Katong residents on Saturday 24th September, Momodou Lamin Touray, secretary general for Kartong VDC said: “We are aware that the Government has reserved all coastlines in the Kombos for the development of tourism and calls it Tourism Development Area (TDA).
“Now, it seems the same Government is encouraging companies to destroy the same TDA through mining, be it sand or ilmenite.”
According to him, The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), World Tourism Organization (WTO), Gambia Tourism Board (GTB) and Kartong Association for Responsible Tourism (KART) have identified Kartong as Eco-Tourism.

“This means Kartong was to promote environmental conservation to directly benefit the community through sustaining the continual arrival and departure of tourists. Could this be achieved with a totally destroyed environment,” he rhetorically asked, adding: “It is unfortunate.”
Moving forward, he said the magnitude and intensity of environmental damage and landscape destruction caused by the recklessness and unacceptable sand mining since 1996-2000, their subsequent mines have been catastrophic for the community.
“Mining has made us lose rice fields and vegetable gardens which we depend on for our livelihood without any meaningful compensation from both the miners and Government authorities concerned,” he argued.

Speaking further he said: “Our birth right as citizens of Kartong have been infringed and totally disregarded by denying us even the token of our village royalties. We are still grappling with the destruction of our once beautiful habitat enriched by our wonderful sand dunes accumulated overtime spanning centuries.”
Mr. Touray noted that the scars of environmental destructions caused by sand mining in Kartong are rampant but added that the community will no longer afford further damages in its territory.

“We as a people cannot tolerate more environmental crime any longer,” he noted.
In this regards, he said the residents of Kartong believe that they should close ranks on an organized level to seek redress, reparation and claim damage from central Government.

SG Touray justified that before the mining, Geology Department promised to ensure that mine sites were backfilled after mining, fenced, rehabilitated and the community compensated but none of these assurances were fulfilled.

Kartong village is an ancient located on a tropical valley bordered by the bank of the Atlantic Ocean on the west and meandering Halahein River on the east and south

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