Gambia: Tension diffuses at Bakoteh/Manjai dump site After Commotion and Scuffles


Tension diffused at the Bakoteh/Manjai Dumpsite yesterday late in the afternoon after commotion and scuffles during a long standoff resulting in arrests and protestors.

By Yankuba Jallow

Halifa Sallah, the member for Serrekunda arrived at the scene yesterday afternoon in the midst of tension and spoke to the youths of the communities who were protesting. He listened to them as they explained their grievances and then counselled them. They agreed not to pursue a hardened position but to dialogue objectively with the authorities to come up with a workable solution. Halifa also spoke to the police on the ground who showed willingness to cooperate. The six youths arrested in connection with the incident were soon released. Foroyaa has learnt that efforts are being made to facilitate dialogue between the communities and the authorities.

The communities of Manjai and Bakoteh have for some months refused the dumping of solid waste at the Bakoteh/Manjai Dumpsite. On Saturday an attempt to dump waste collected from Serrekunda market after a ‘set-settal’ (general cleansing up) exercise resulted to a commotion due to refusal by the inhabitants of Manjai and Bakoteh.

Vehicles parked with rubbish were directed to dump the waste at the Manjai/Bakoteh dumpsite. There were more than twelve (12) loaded trucks with garbage that headed towards the Manjai/Bakoteh dump site but they were confronted by the residents of Manjai and Bakoteh who blockaded them from dumping at the site.

The claim of residents is that they’ve called for dialogue on the future of the dumpsite with government on several occasions, to no avail. They also said they cast their votes on December 1, 2016 for change of leadership for an administration that will work to improve their welfare, but not an administration that will seize their rights and forget about them. They lamented the adverse health problems posed by the dumpsite.

The angry people who attempted to dump the garbage at the dumpsite and were denied, loaded three trucks, drove inside the KMC head office and dumped the garbage at the Lord Mayor’s office. Some dumped the waste along Sayerr Avenue in Serrunda. When asked their reasons for doing such, they said it was to show their dissatisfaction with the mayor.

A discussion took place between the Minister of the Interior, Mr. Mai Ahmed Fatty and the spokesperson and resident of the area Rohey Njie but without success. A meeting between Mr Fatty and representatives of the communities took place at KMC on Saturday but this was again unsuccessful.

After the unsuccessful meeting personnel of the police intervention unit were ordered to cordon off the area with some stationed at the dumpsite. They were armed with rifles and riot gears. This stand-off continued until Sunday when residents woke up to discover that waste was dumped at the dumpsite. Tear gas canisters were fired, stones were thrown and arrests were effected. As the day progressed the tension built up.

The Bakoteh/Manjai dumpsite has been the only dumpsite in the KMC for more than 2 decades. The location of the dumpsite is directly opposite the SOS Children’s Village and within the dense residential communities of Bakoteh and Manjai kunda. The residents said the effects of the dumpsite poses serious health threats to their health and it has rendered their water non portable. According to them the water cannot be used for anything because of pollution of the underground water, caused by the site; that their fruit trees such as mangoes and oranges, have been rendered useless because no one can eat them.

The Mayor of the Municipality, Mayor Yankuba Colley, said the KMC has never called for the closure of the dumpsite and calls on government to come to their aid. He said he has been engaging government to intervene through dialogue with the residents of Manjai and Bakoteh over the issue of the dumpsite.

This reporter spoke to the Secretary General of the Conflict Resolution Foundation, Mr. Muhammed Abudul Karim Touray, who said the matter is beyond politics and the authorities need to engage the residents within the dumpsite, to some serious dialogue. He said the effects of the pollution caused by the dumpsite can be deadly. He said Government needs to learn crisis management systems to be able to bring in tangible solution in difficult times.

Minister Fatty said they are have been invited by KMC who has the primary responsibility to solve the situation over decades. The Interior Minister in his bold state said ‘we have an immediate task at hand and this immediate task will be executed looking at the best interest of not only the community of Bakoteh but all Gambians and we are going to implement that,’’ he said.

On Sunday when the chaos was intense, Honourable Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member for Banjul North came there to persuade the Manjai/Bakoteh rioters to quell the situation. He spoke to them for the need to maintain peace and tranquility and pleaded to them to stay away from violence.

See next edition for what Halifa Sallah said in counseling the youths at the dumpsite.

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Foroyaa Newspaper, 10.07.2017

The confrontation which occurred on Sunday from the surroundings of the Bakoteh Dumpsite should not be allowed to reoccur. The tension has been diffused but the causes of the tension are yet to be addressed.

In a matter of hours the area close to the Bakoteh dumpsite became a battle ground between the youths throwing stones and security forces discharging tear gas.

After midday the battle between the security forces and the young people of Bakoteh and Manjai began to filter down to the communities. A larger crisis affecting  women, the youth and the elderly loomed.

The dropping of a tear gas canister in the home of an elderly person more than ninety years old who was sitting with small children age under seven summed up how crisis flares within a short period of time to be a major confrontation which can affect many people of diverse backgrounds.

It is therefore important for the state to realize that it is in its best interest to prevent such confrontation which could lead to loss of life, properties and injuries on all sides.

We therefore hope that the state and the communities of Bakoteh and Manjai will have a constructive engagement to address the core challenges of the Bakoteh dumpsite.

Foroyaa will continue to monitor the situation and accordingly inform the public.

Foroyaa Newspaper, 10.07.2017


At the beginning of the confrontation between the security forces and the residents of Bakoteh and Manjai, the road from Bakoteh to Kololi was cordoned off to prevent the people from Bakoteh from entering the dumpsite while transports with solid waste were allowed to dump the waste.

Those members of the community who came close to the security forces were intercepted and interrogated. Arrests eventually followed which increased the tension.

In order to diffuse the tension the police agreed to release all detainees whose arrests were initially ordered. As it stands Foroyaa has been reliably infirmed that all those arrested as a result of the incident have been released.

Foroyaa will follow development and will keep the public informed of the outcome of the negotiation to address the problems associated with the Bakoteh dumpsite.

The Point, 10.07.2017

A clash ensued between the communities of Bakoteh and Manjai, and members of the Police Intervention Unit during the weekend over the long standing issue of dumping at the Bakoteh dumpsite.

The dispute started on Saturday when a group of youth from Bakoteh and Manjai protested against the dumping of collected waste and garbage from a cleansing exercise held at the municipality’s biggest market in Serekunda on Saturday.

The chaos resulted in the prevention of more than 12 trucks, loaded with waste and garbage from being dumped at the Bakoteh dumpsite. The dumpsite is situated between the townships of Manjai, Bakoteh and DippaKunda.

Personnel of the Police Intervention Unit were present in what officials say was to “facilitate the peaceful and smooth dumping process” following directives to that effect from the authorities.

Earlier on Saturday, two separate indoor meetings were held between Interior Minister Mai Fatty, and the youth leaders of the Bakoteh/Manjai communities at the Bakoteh Police Station and municipality offices, respectively, without producing a positive breakthrough.

‘’The President had instructed that every measure should be exhausted in order to make sure that the interest of the nation prevails. The community of Bakoteh also has serious concerns. The responsibility of government is to look at the overwhelming interest of the country and of the citizenry,” said Mr. Fatty, noting that they were working on behalf of KMC who had the primary role of handling the situation.

‘’This is not a problem created by us; we were invited by KMC which has the primary responsibility of handling this situation over the past decades.  Therefore, the government is working at the invitation of KMC but also at the interest of the relevant ministries – Ministries of Environment, and Local government,” he explained.

Hon. Halifa Sallah, the National Assembly member of SereKunda, advised the youths to find peaceful resolution to the issue in a court of law than engage in violent acts by taking matters into their own hands.

A presidential aspirant and leader of GDC, Mama Kandeh, echoed similar sentiments.

Rohey Njie, the spokesperson for the Bakoteh/Manjai community, said they will be willing to have a dialogue with the government if the latter is ready to listen to their demands.

‘’Our demands are for the Bakoteh dumpsite to be shut down and let them take care of the garbage that is already there. Why would we allow garbage to come?” she questioned.

Author: Mahamadou Camara

The Point, 10.07.2017


Mayor Yankuba Colley’s office at Kanifing Municipal Council premises in Kanifing was turned into a site of dumping waste and garbage on Saturday by a group of youth and women.

The incident occurred in the wake of a cleansing exercise, ‘Setsettal’, at the Serekunda market organised by a development oriented group called GamSense, and some other women and youth empowerment groups.

The wastes and rubbish collected from the market were dumped right in front of the Mayor’s office, in protest and as a show of frustration, as the youth were prevented from dumping the garbage at the Bakoteh dumpsite by a combative youth community mainly from Bakoteh and Manjai.

“We cleaned everything from in and around the market, and then took the wastes to the Bakoteh dumpsite, but the people of Manjai/Bakoteh prevented us from dumping and were even ready to fight us,” said Fatou Drammeh, a fruit vendor at ‘Sandika’ in Serekunda who was involved in the cleansing exercise.

“The Interior Minister, Mai Fatty, was called to intervene; he came but the people wound not still allow us to throw our garbage at the dumpsite.  It was then we decided to go to the KMC headquarters to dump it there; some of the garbage was dumped at Serekunda–Westfield market junction.”

Neneh Camara, another vendor who was involved in the cleansing exercise, said the only obstacle they had in the whole cleansing exercise was lack of dumping place.

“We spent the whole day cleaning only to be prevented from dumping the garbage collected from the exercise; this is frustrating and this is why we decided to dump it on the roads and at KMC.”

Two separate indoor meetings were held on the same day between the interior minister, Mr Fatty, and the youth leaders of Bakoteh/Manjai community at the Bakoteh Police Station and KMC headquarters, respectively but both proved futile as the community was adamant on its stand that the garbage would not be thrown at the dumpsite.

Rohey Njie, spokesperson for the Bakoteh/Manjai community, said they were willing to have a dialogue with the government, if the government would listen to their demands.

“Our demands are for the Bakoteh dumpsite to be shut down and let them [the government] take care of the garbage that is already there,” she said.

Ms Njie revealed that no agreement was reached between them and the government over the issue of the dumpsite.

“There was no solution to the meeting today,” she said.

On behalf of the Bakoteh/Manjai community, Ms Njie blamed KMC for the tension and mismanagement of the Bakoteh dumpsite area.

The people involved in the cleansing exercise, the majority of them women, chanted‘Yankuba is the cause of this problem; Yankuba is the cause of this problem’.

However, Mayor Yankuba Colley said KMC was not responsible for the closure of the dumpsite.

“We are not part of the closure of the dumpsite; KMC is not part of it.  This is why we are appealing to the government to come to our aid and the people of this municipality,” he said.

More than 12 trucks and pick-ups loaded with garbage were prevented from reaching or dumping at the dumping site in Bakoteh by the youth of Bakoteh and Manjai communities.

The minister of the interior, Mai Ahmad Fatty, said there is a need for immediate solution to the dumpsite issue emhpasising that the interest of the communities of Bakoteh and all Gambians should be taken into consideration.

“We have an immediate task at hand and this immediate task will be executed looking at the best interests of not only Bakoteh but all Gambians,” he affirmed, adding that all the relevant stakeholders would be involved in the process.

“President Adama Barrow has directed that every measure and step be taken in order to balance the interest of community against the interest of the nation,” he added.

Author: Mahamadou Camara and Kemo Bojang