By Ndey Sowe
Property owners in New Jeshwang who have been affected by the OIC road project in that community, have called on the Gambia government and all other stakeholders, to prioritise compensation of their properties, before demolishing their structures.
The affected property owners of New Jeshwang made this call during a one day community engagement with stakeholders from OIC Gambia Secretariat in collaboration with the National Roads Authority last Thursday 12th January 2023, organised by The Gambia OIC Secretariat. The community outreach came ahead of the clearing of rights of way along Road P1 i.e.: GPPC-New Jeshwang (GACEM Junction) to Jokor junction, which is included in the 50KM urban roads construction project, under the auspices of OIC Gambia.
According to the authorities of OIC Gambia, the purpose of the community outreach is to open a line of communication and dialogue with affected communities who will be impacted by the project works ahead of a planned demolition. However, the property owners indicate that to compensate them before the demolition of their structures, will facilitate their re-location or re-building process together with their families. The officials disclosed that the date for demolition is 23rd of January 2023, and affirmed that the demolition will happen and that is why they engaged the community to sensitize them ahead of events.
In an interview on the concerns raised by most of the affected property owners regarding compensation before any demolition takes place, Mr. Essa Bokarr Sey, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer The Gambia OIC Secretariat said they had a meeting and the compensation part of it was the most important.
“What I want to reassure is this. We have already talked to the National Assembly Member of New Jeshwang constituency and my team, and we will create a Whatsapp group which will be called the ‘The Compensation Group’. Then we will consult the National Assembly Member and meet with the authorities and speak to them about the concerns of the affected people and see what best we can do to meet and address their demands,” Mr. Sey assured. He said they will compensate everybody on current market prices of materials and not on previous ones. Mr. Sey expressed that he is impressed and motivated in processing the collection of feelings with members of the team.
“Because if you engage people you know their plight much better than sitting in your office and assuming and imaging for them. Meeting them is something that motivates me more to understand the magnitude and importance of this project,” Mr Sey reiterated.
Hon. Sheriff Sarr, the National Assembly Member of the area, expressed gratitude over the road construction in his constituency, and assured that he will work hand in glove with the authorities to see that their concerns are met on the one hand, as well as see the to it that the demands of the affected property owners is equally addressed. Hon. Sarr said he will do his best to support his constituents after the demolition of their structures.
“I will meet the minister and explain the situation to him, and I will also meet and engage all those concerned, in finding the best way out,” Hon. Sarr assured.
Kebba Trawally, project manager for OIC at the NRA, asserted that all affected property owners will be compensated, based on the magnitude of the damage that each of them have.
When asked the kind of compensation to be given to affected property owners, Trawally affirmed that they will be paid financially and not in any material kind and further affirmed that the land or structure or both taken from them, will be compensated based on current market values as reiterated earlier. He said every affected household will receive a letter of what part of the property or house is damaged and each will be told how much they should receive for compensation.
To this end, some of the affected people asked for a standard road construction, and urged them to consider proper drainage systems with foot pathways where pedestrians can walk, in order to avoid flooding.
In responding to their concerns, Mr Trawally said the roads will be standard roads with foot paths, utilities, drainage sewage systems and more.
For the information of the reader, the construction of a 22 km road stretching from the Airport Junction through Bertil Harding Highway to Sting Corner and the construction of 20 new roads within the Greater Banjul Area, are among the key priority road projects of the OIC. And among other things, the roads are expected to improve traffic circulation leading to and around the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre in anticipation of the OIC Summit.
Other stakeholders for the OIC roads project present at the event, were the Ministry of Transport, Works and Infrastructure, the Department of Lands and Surveys, the Gambia Physical Planning and Housing Department, and other relevant stakeholders. The other 20 new roads will be a single carriage-way of two lanes, and will include streetlights, pathways and drainage.