The natural resources of any given nation belong to the state and therefore they have the sole responsibility to tap the resources even if such resources are under people’s bed. That is the law in many countries including the Gambia.
But the state also has a responsibility to the people or communities where the mineral resources are found. On the other hand, mining companies do also owe it to the community not to destroy their environment during and after their operations.
In this case, the environment of Faraba should not be destroyed. After mining activities it is the responsibility of the company to refill the holes created. Unfortunately this is not adhered to by mining companies as one can see quarries all over the country.
Specifically, the Daily News is talking about the Faraba mining Saga; this village and its people are endowed with a lot of mineral resources. The community has a few thousand of people and they are predominantly farmers and more particular rice farmers. Their farming activity is more of subsistence farming than commercial farming.
The community is also endowed with clay, sand and gravel mineral resources; and the villagers were engaged in local mining for domestic building purposes for generations now. However, in the past some people and interested companies also took advantage and were involved in industrial mining activities in their community.
These activities have left a lot to be desired as the topography of the village’s large farm lands are tampered with and rendered unproductive any more. The clay mineral is being mined industrially and now the effect of that mining on their rice field is rendering the land no more productive as salt has intruded into their rice farms.
The community is now compelled to have moved to their second and only rice field; now and again they are faced with another industrial mining which poses threat to their second and only rice filed.
Here, the problem emanated from the state which already approved and licensed Julaykey Mining Company the rights to mine in Faraba village; and the people of Faraba are saying allowing such an activity will only shatter the hope of the villagers as they will be losing their only sources of livelihood.
The people of Faraba are of the opinion that yes the mineral resources belong to the State but is in their community and therefore the mining of such minerals should not deprived them their livelihood.The site in question should be saved from salt intrusion by not allowing Julakey Mining Company extract sand from the designated site as it will open the gate for salt intrusion into the village rice fields.
The villagers are already suffering as the police are stationed in the outskirts of their village and already some arrests have been made here and there. The village is no more enjoying the peace they know.
Government should reconsider the decision of allowing the sand to be mined from Faraba and seriously engage the National Environment Agency, Agriculture department and geology for professional advice.