Row at Kartong over GACH Global Sand Mining deal
By Sulayman Waan
Buba Kwame Jarju, the chairperson for the Kartong Village Development Committee (KVDC) has threatened to take legal action against some members of the community who he alleged have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Gambia, Angola, China, and Hong Kong (GACH) Mining Company over black sand mining from the coastal community without the approval from the VDC.
Kartong in 2022 inaugurated a new VDC. Since then this committee has been steering the affairs of the community’s developmental aspirations including controlling its finance mainly derived from the Kartong fishmeal and mining sites.
However, the new VDC has alleged that some residents such as ModouMbayeJabang, KanjurSambou, and Lamin Jamba Jammeh, the former councilor of Kartong Ward have illegally acted on behalf of the VDC and signed a mining agreement with GACH Global – a deal that the VDC chairman vowed to take legal action against.
Speaking at the village meeting on Saturday, Mr. Jarju said the “recognised VDC” has secured a legal representative and now working on summoning the alleged impersonators to court for illegally signing an agreement with the mining company in the name of the village.
“I have secured a lawyer and we are going to court as of next week,” he informed the gathering.
He said the alleged impersonators have addressed a letter to the management of GACH Global under the pretext that the village had a new VDC headed by Lamin Jamba Jammeh. “I have laid hands on that letter,” he revealed.
According to him, VDC will regulate all financial dealings at the village for the interest of all residents, while noting that there are some people undermining these efforts.
He said GACH Global started mining the black sand from Brufut, Batakonku, Tujereng, and Sanyang villages but now they have an interest to mine in Kartong. He added that the company did not inform the people of Kartong formally rather, it organised a tournament at Tujereng for coastal communities where they want to mine.
“When the company organised the tournament it informed us. We also honoured the Kartong Sport Committee and handed over the invitation to them to participate. But some of the people in the sports committee including ModouMbyeJabang, and KanjurSambou went to GACH Management and informed them that if the company wants to mine at Kartong, it has to engage the outgoing VDC because they had not handed over office to the new VDC yet,” he alleged.
He revealed that the alleged impersonators have struck a deal with the said mining company in which the community will be yearly compensated D200,000.
Jarju rubbished that deal, saying “even a madman or someone who does not like his community should not accept that kind of a deal.”
Jarju said he summoned the CEO of GACH, AbubacarrJawara at the Brikama Area Council, and the chairperson of the council advised him to work with his own committee that is recognised by the council.
Reacting to this, Lamin Jamba Jammeh, denied the allegation, saying “all what they said is false. My committee, the village head (alkalo), and community elders are saying no to the allegation. All that they said is false” he said.
He further refuted having a private meeting with GACH concerning the mining.
Mr. Jammeh, however, accepted signing an agreement with the mining company but said the ceremony was held at the village head’s home.
“It was the village head who informed GACH that I am the VDC chair,” he said.
“I am the recognised VDC chairman of Kartong certified by the alkalo, head of the village and ‘kabilos’ (clans) and council of elders of the village. The old VDC has already handed over the baton to my committee. We are the VDC selected in the presence of the Office of Community Development.”
Contacted for comment, MafugiCeesay, communication officer for GACH confirmed GACH signing an agreement with Kartong’s VDC that introduced it to the village stakeholders.
“Before, we commenced our operations, we went to the community, the Alkalo and the Council of elders to inform them of our project and explore how we could support the community. We were introduced by the VDC with whom we concluded an MOU to provide multi-million Dalasi worth of support to the community,” he said.
“This MOU is only meant to facilitate our corporate social responsibility. After the conclusion of this MOU it was brought to our attention that there are two rival VDCs in the community. We have reached out to all the stakeholders and expressed our desire for a peaceful resolution to these community misunderstandings.”
DembaJabang, the alkalo of Kartong village, said: “The council of elders of the community and I recognised the camp of Lamin Jamba Jammeh. And Lamin is the chairman of Kartong VDC.”
He confirmed that the mining deal GACH has with other coastal communities such as Batokunku and Sanyang is the same deal it has with his village, Kartong.