Gambia’s President Adama Barrow currently has a foreign relations problem on his hands as Gambians voice their displeasure about the activities of some Chinese firms operating in their country.
China only announced its resumption of diplomatic relations with Gambia last year. The restoration of relations was only possible after Gambia severed ties with Taiwan four years ago. Now it looks like Gambia’s Chinese row may dislodge the little progress that has been made so far.
Local media and environmentalists started up Gambia’s Chinese Row when they reported that Chinese fish meal producer Golden Leaf was dumping waste into the waters along Gambia’s southwest coast. The resultant effect of their actions apparently turned tides red and littered shores with dead fish.
Social media users broadened Gambia’s Chinese row by including other Chinese firms in their criticisms. In fact, these social media savvy Gambians accused them of “destroying everything in the Gambia.”
One of the commentators on Gambia’s Chinese row wrote this about Golden Leads factory;
“Golden Leads Factory is polluting our waters, overfishing our stocks and have turned our beaches into a huge cemetry. Local people in Kartong and Gunjur have started protesting and were threatened by the factory’ s owners. This has to stop now! Dear President Barrow help us before it is too late.”
President Barrow is put in a prickly situation considering the fact that he has been courting Chinese investors, but the row being intensified by Gambians may jeopardize his efforts and the relationship between the two countries.
Remember that Gambia still has a lot to recover, economically, from the eventual ‘dethroning’ of Yahya Jammeh. The former strongman President had left state coffers practically empty before going into exile.
China has often presented itself as a strong partner for African nations caught in these type of straits.It will not be the first time, however, that Chinese companies who set up shop in African nations take things of this nature for granted.
The companies usually get away with it too and are not held accountable because the government justifies their contributions to the economy as much too important to jeopardize.
Gambians will be watching to see if their President will act any differently and take steps to make sure that the companies fall in line.