Jammeh’s ban on plastics is across the board which include plastic ice bags, shopping bags, fish and meat carrier bags and all other plastic bags, but the government failed to consider the industries and people whose livelihood are solely dependent on plastics. The fish industry is currently adversely affected because those that sell ice blocks cannot sell any longer as they need plastic bags to produce ice blocks and the plastic bags are banned. Also during the holy month of Ramadan most of the people used ice blocks to cool their waters, however, that is not possible any longer due to the banned of plastic bags. At schools, workplaces, playgrounds and at all public gatherings, local people make and sell the local juices called “Wonjo” and “Sita Ice” or “Icee Bui”, however, all that has stopped due to the banned on plastics and those people used the income generated from those small enterprises to feed their families, pay for their kids school fees and medical bills. The NAAN company and other water companies are all directly affected and those companies employed hundreds of Gambians and they pay millions of Dalasis in taxes.
As an environmentalist, I was over the moon when I heard the Gambia government announcement that they will stop the importation and sale of plastic bags come 1st, July 2015 in the Gambia, however, what I was not aware of was the ambiguity of the announcement. Like in most developed countries the used of plastic is strictly regulated and cater for by the respective governments in order to preserve the environment. All the local councils or boroughs in the UK have their recycling plants where they recycled plastics and anything that is recyclable and they do provide public rubbish bins and of course, collect rubbish from peoples’ homes at least on bi-weekly basis and above all there is a constant supply of electricity. However, Jammeh did not provide non of these and also did not provide no alternative to the use of plastics in The Gambia, just as most of his rushed through policies, this ban is having a very serious consequences for the consumers as well as the struggling businesses in the country.
When you do cost-benefit analysis of this ban, you come to realise that the cost outweighed the benefits of the ban because as long as the government does not provide an alternative, the ordinary people and their families will continue to suffer but it will not have any positive impact on the environment. For the good of the nation, Mr President, you and your government needs to reconsider your decision on this executive order as it is officially called, to lift the blanket ban on the importation and sale of plastics in The Gambia. As has been mentioned earlier, there are so many people in the country whose livelihood is solely dependent on the trade of plastics and before you ban, you provide alternative first.