Waste management presents the “biggest problem” to the Municipal Council since a new Mayor was voted in office in 2018. In a tour with President Barrow that year, the Mayor appealed for help from central government to find a sustainable solution to the dumpsite problem.
Despite promises from No.1 Marina Parade, no such intervention has come to complement the Council, until this week when the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Gerd Müller, laid the foundation stone with a pledge of D33 million (€580, 000) financing for a green park transformation project.
Measuring 18 hectares, the Bakoteh dumpsite is the largest solid waste site in the country. The dumpsite’s waste situation reached a crisis point almost two decades ago without a sustainable solution.
It is located next to the biggest orphanage in the country, with several schools, and surrounded on the west and the south by residential communities. The year-round stench from decaying waste dumped by trucks and other vehicles, plus persistent smoke and repeated fire outbreaks makes the area one of the worst to live in.
Water table in the vicinity is impacted by high lead concentration and options for sustainable development became nightmarish.
The German Solution
The German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development delivered a touching speech at the ceremony held at the dumpsite grounds on Friday, 18th June 2021.
“Now it’s time to change the livelihoods of children and mothers in this crazy place,” said Minister Gerd Müller.
“Children, dear guests, my heart, my mind is with you. I wish you a better future,” the German Minister added.
The project is 75% funded by the German Bundes Ministeriumfürwirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ), through partnership with the SOS Children’s Villages The Gambia and Hermann Gmeiner Fonds Deutschland (HGFD) as well as the Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC).
“Your children need a better future,” the Minster added, announcing he met President Barrow just within an hour before arriving at the dumpsite.
“My message is, for the children’s future, schools, education and health care must become first priority in the country,” he said.
They promised to give support in the areas of training, employment creation and education in a better environment.
500 tons of solid waste
It is 18 hectares of land that used to be a quarry for sand mining. Approximately, 500 tons of solid waste is offloaded at the dumpsite each day. Some 400 to 500 donkey carts, and 40 trucks are used to bring waste each day.
Mayor Bensouda had decried the council needs government help to control indiscriminate dumping around the city. He said that waste also clutters gutters and causes flooding; causes public health menace when it rots within communities.
“It costs the municipality D200, 000 per week to clear illegal dumpsites. This is why we are trying to acquire the 35 tractors under the jurisdiction of the Commission of Inquiry. When we do, it will create 1,000 jobs and facilitate door-to-door collection of waste in the municipality,” Mayor said to President Barrow in 2018.
Minister Miller, subsequently handed over two quad bikes, 30 fire extinguishers, and tree planting materials for the planned “Green Zone”, which will shield the SOS Children’s Village from the dumpsite.
The BMZ Bakoteh Dumpsite Project will include two access roads, three fire hydrants, an open shed, two toilet blocks and 30 solar lights.