You may know that Dakar is a peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean in the north, west and south, which gives the city much needed winds from the sea. The winds bring advantages: they keep the air clean for breathing and they also keep the mosquitoes at bay outside of the rainy season, or at least they used to. There also used to be an easy access to the sea but these days it is more and more difficult to even catch a glimpse of the ocean because the land has been taken over by private companies, ex-ministers and judges.
I would be curious to meet city planners and environmentalists and learn to understand if there are real mechanisms in place that could still save the coastline from being further exploited for private gain. Who do the coastline and the beaches belong to? Are they not a national treasure and heritage to be guarded and included in sustainable urban planning as such? Every time I am in Dakar I wonder: What will this city look like in 50 years from now and who will then have access to the sea?
Moctar Bâ,* architect and president of PERL (Plateforme pour l’Environnement et la Réappropriation du Littoral) has some answers. He is saying that the land grabbing by the private sector is destroying the coastline in Dakar and that filling the coastline with buildings will imperatively make the inland air more polluted when the winds cannot clear the air any more. He also asserts that national politics with a vision is needed urgently, with a stipulation that the land that has already been lost to private sector should be heavily taxed. Other practical measures introduced by Bâ and his associates suggest that Senegal should adapt a coastline management system similar to the Canadian and Australian models to exercise urban planning with sustainable solutions for the coastline.
One of the many posters that have been sprinkled by the roadside in Mamelles advertize: Vivez le rêve ! But whose dream are they talking about?