Gambia: Reserved Buffer Zone At 'Nyambai' Forest Turned to Dumpsite

A reserved buffer zone of forest situated at the Brikama Nyambai Forest Park, has been turned to a dumpsite by the communities nearby. The communities have been accused by Forest officers for 'illegally' dumping waste inside the forest's buffer zone area during the night.

This reporter visited the site on Tuesday July 16th 2019, and noticed that some of the planted trees close by have either died or are in the process of wilting away because of the massive garbage dumped within and the foul stench and odour. This reporter said all sorts of waste can be found at this site such as plastic bags, baby pampas, human excreta, old and discarded vehicle tires, waste clothing and the list goes on.

Momodou Lamin Njai, an Assistant at the Technical Unit of the Department of Forestry's Nyambai station, alleged that local communities close to the Forest are engaged in illegal night dumping of waste within the area; that the forest is state owned and is not meant to carry out any illegal activity within the Forest park.

"Dumping garbage in the forest is illegal. It is against the rules and regulations of the Department of Forestry," he remarked. He accused nearby residents and the people selling near the area, of throwing their garbage in the buffer zone of the Forest park.

Njai told this reporter that the illegal dumping causes sporadic fire outbreaks within the forest buffer zone, and that this can burn for days which destroys young plants and bigger trees in the process. He complained of the foul smell that comes from the site and this he said is toxic to any animal or human that breathes it. Njai laments that if the illegal dumping of garbage continues within the park, it will be difficult for them to regenerate trees in the area. He said the Brikama Area Council is aware of the activity, but did not take any action to remedy the situation. Njai urged the local community and anyone residing in close proximity to the Forest, to avoid dumping inside the buffer zone of the Forest park.

This reporter contacted one resident of the area (name withheld), who acknowledged the dumping of waste in the forest. She lamented that the result of dumping within the forest park has never been their wish; that they do this because they have nowhere to dump their waste, which she said continues to pile up in their homes. "Where we live is far from the main highway and this makes it hard for us to throw our garbage. The Brikama Area Council is not helping us. We are taxpayers and they should collect our waste or allocate us a dumpsite. I call on the local authorities to collect our wastes or help us with a place where we can dump our waste," she said.

When contacted for comments regarding this illegal dumpsite within the Forest buffer zone area at the Nyambai Forest Park, the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Brikama Area Council said their institution is not responsible. He indicated to this reporter that dumpsites have been identified by the National Environment Agency (NEA) and referred this reporter to that institution.

In a telephone interview, Sheikh Alkinky Sanyang, a Communication Officer at the National Environment Agency (NEA) confirmed that dumping in the forest is illegal. He added that anyone found dumping waste in the forest will face the law.

"It's criminal to dump waste inside the forest but if we find those conducting these illegal activities NEA will take legal against them. The Nyambai has never been identified as a dumping area," he warned.

When it was put to him that Brikama Area Council spokesperson says their institution is not responsible, NEA Alkinky said the forest park is within the jurisdiction of Brikama, therefore it's the responsibility of BAC to look into the matter.

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