Gambia: Sanyang Women Rice Farmers Demand Compensation From Gach

1 December 2020

A number of women rice farmers at Sanyang Kayanko have accused GACH, a private owned sand mining company of destroying their rice farms following salt water intrusion and also demolition of fences due to mining operations.

The Gambia, Angola, China, Holdings (GACH) of recent received several complaints from the local women rice farmers, who expressed their frustration and anger for the damage on their rice fields by the mining company.

The women last month met the Village Development Committee (VDC) of Sanyang in a bid to empower them receive financial compensation from the accused sand mining company.

Many women have confirmed that they are no longer going to work on rice farms following destruction of their rice farm fences that were meant to keep animals at bay.

Fatou Jarju, a victim told The Point in an interview that her rice field has almost been destroyed by animal intrusion after the mining company she claims demolished her entire fencing boundary meant to keep at bay cattle from entering.

"I was told by the head of Operations of the mining company that the destroyed fence will be replaced but until today, I only receive information of animals intruding my rice field. I have since stopped going to visit my rice farm after the entire fence of the farm was damaged by the activities of the mining company."

"What can I do? I have no power to look for compensation but to only rely on God's help."

"We were promised to be compensated by the company and this has been since the end of the raining season when our rice fields were growing. I personally have to lose six of my cashew trees which I used to pay school fees, lunch and buy uniforms for my children," she stated.

Isatou Gibba, also a victim, said the intrusion of salt water has caused damage to her rice farm while citing the amount of water that entered her farm due to the mining nature of the company as huge.

"The intrusion of salt water into my rice farm is as a result of a water channel created by the company to allow easy transportation of a drilling machine to a different location for mining."

"What we are only seeking as for now is to be compensated financially by the company because we cannot regain what has already been destroyed by the mining company," she mentioned.

Kawsu Jatta, head of Operations at the mining company, in response to allegations, stated that prior to the sand mining activities, the company he said had engaged in a meeting with those believed to be affected for compensation.

"We did not just jump and start work like that, I can tell all of the women who were likely to be affected were consulted for a meeting and informed about compensation over any of their destroyed properties by the activities of the company."

And let me make it clear that it will surely happen," he assured.

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