A long-standing dispute over sand mining spawned violent clashes Monday in Gambia, with two people killed and others — including police officers — critically injured.
The Julakay engineering and construction company is at the center of the dispute amid allegations of environmental exploitation in Faraba Banta village, about 50 kilometers from the capital, Banjul.
Villagers want the mining site relocated. In addition to the casualties, officials said vehicles at the site were vandalized, and the scene remained tense and chaotic after the clashes.
Sand mining is a growing business worldwide, filling a critical need for concrete in construction projects ranging from roads to high-rises. But it also is blamed for a wide range of environmental issues, such as coastal erosion and degradation of river systems.
Interior Minister Ebrima Mballow points out that Julakay has a government license to engage in sand mining at Faraba. He urged villagers to mount a legal challenge if there are problems.
"My message is let people not take the law into their own hands," Mballow said. "Let them have dialogue with the government. If they have grievances, there is court. There is rule of law."
The minister said he has dispatched security forces to the village to keep the peace.
Lamin Conteh, a native of Faraba who teaches accounting in the United States, told VOA that villagers are particularly concerned because mining in a neighboring village caused salt contamination in its rice fields.
"This mining, to us, is an environmental disaster," he said.
Police Open Fire On Protestors Two Shot Dead
President Barrow Regrets the Loss of Lives in Faraba, Suspends All Mining Activities
AllAfrica publishes around 600 reports a day from more than 150 news organizations and over 500 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.
Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.
AllAfrica is a voice of, by and about Africa - aggregating, producing and distributing 600 news and information items daily from over 150 African news organizations and our own reporters to an African and global public. We operate from Cape Town, Dakar, Abuja, Monrovia, Nairobi and Washington DC.