New Yundum Demands Apology from Mai Fatty for ‘Irresponsible, Discourteous’ Statement over Bird Strike
The Village Development Committee of New Yundum in the West Coast Region has demanded a public apology from Mai Ahmad Fatty, a special adviser to the president for allegedly linking bird strike at the airport to the activities of the nearby communities, including New Yundum.
Speaking at an emergency press briefing at State House Wednesday, Fatty said “the manner that people deal with the environment, especially with waste disposal, contributed to the attraction of birds and other ruminants that are currently affecting the smooth running of the airport.”
The briefing was held 24 hours after President Adama Barrow instituted an Emergency Strategic Committee during an airport security stakeholders meeting to clean up dumpsites and landfills within close proximity of the airport amidst growing concern over aviation safety due to bird strike – a collision between birds and aircraft.
“We must begin to be responsible with our environment. We dump everywhere when it is our responsibility to clean our environment. Indiscriminate dumping everywhere else, particularly at the airport, have become an attraction for birds like vultures because we are encroaching on their habitats. Yet, we have only one airport in this country,” Fatty said.
The people of New Yundum where the airport is located, have been offended by Fatty’s remarks, describing them as irresponsible, discourteous, and ungracious.
“Hon. Mai Ahmad Fatty infers that New Yundum and other surrounding communities are responsible for attracting ‘birds’ into the airport premises due to their ‘bad attitudes’ in indiscriminately dumping refuse and that consequently poised a serious danger to flights safety at the airport,” the New Yundum VDC wrote in a press communiqué.
“It is utterly disappointing that such irresponsible and inconsiderate statement above could be directed to the people of our community and from a man of Hon. Mai’s status and position in our governance structure as a country. This, we as a community, took as a hard knocked and affront plain insults to our community and people.”
The statement argued that the people of New Yundum are not a cause or a source of attraction of birds into the airport and have never served as trouble for flights safety in the country. “The dump site in use by our people is an area consensually accepted for the dumping of refuse for the community. Therefore, we expected the blatant failure of the Brikama Area Council to be of highlights of the press conference, of not executing their rightful duties in the collection of refuse from the community rather than an attack of such irresponsible statement against the unconsidered tax payers of our community.”
Moreover, Hon. Mai confirmed that a ‘Task Force Committee’ was set up by the president to look at all the parameters surrounding the airport and that the conclusion was the problem has to do with the attitude of ourselves. Then what is the use of the task force when the lead of the force has already confirmed the cause of the problem even without investigation?”
“Furthermore, this is indeed news to us and one would have expected that a task force committee of such a nature and considering the location of the airport and the people mostly affected will serve as a key stakeholder in the formulation and the implementation of the laid down policies,” the statement said. “But unfortunately, the total disregard of the importance of stakeholder management and involvement on any policy formulation, implementation or monitoring in this case is totally disregarded by the responsible authorities. This serves as an affront of total disrespect of our local authority structures!”
The statement also condemned the tone of Fatty during the press briefing, describing it as authoritarian.
The VDC called on the Brikama Area Council to live up to its responsibilities by providing refuse bins for the communities or have periodic collection of waste from them. It also asked the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority to fulfil its corporate social responsibilities.
“For so long, our land, water and air have been over polluted by the authority, and we think it is about time that they consider doing what is expected of them.”