By Bekai Njie
The executive director of National Environment Agency (NEA) Momodou Suwareh and the director of Geology Department Abdoulie M. Cham have both been suspended for six months without salaries as government accepts the Faraba Banta report.
The secretary general and head of civil service revealed this at a press conference held at the Justice Ministry in Banjul.
The Faraba report indicated that there was no proper Environmental Impact Assessment conducted in the area to be mined as required by the law before the granting of the mining licence to Julakay Ltd. nor were there sufficient safeguards to ensure restoration of the mining area by Julakay Ltd. after completion of mining activities as required by the law.
It is said that both the NEA and Geology Department disregarded the concerns of the Village Development Committee (VDC) and the residents regarding the potential adverse effects that commercial and mechanical sand mining might have on the environment and livelihood, especially rice cultivation and gardens in the affected areas.
The report further highlighted that NEA and the GD did not clearly demarcate the mining area under the license granted to Julakay Ltd. or communicate this demarcated area to the VDC or the villagers.
On the 18th of June 2018, there was a tense standoff between the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) and some residents of Faraba Banta village in the West Coast Region of The Gambia regarding sand mining activities in the village by Julakay Quarry and Mining Ltd., a private company.
The standoff led to an eruption of violence between the said residents and PIU resulting in the death of three civilians and injury of some PIU personnel and also the destruction of properties at the village.
In accordance with Section 200 of the Constitution of the Republic of The Gambia, 1997 and the Commission of Inquiry Act Cap 30:01 Vol. 5 of the laws of The Gambia, President Adama Barrow was mandated to establish a Commission of Inquiry on 1st of July 2018 to bring perpetrators to justice.