By Mustapha Jallow & Madiba Singhateh
Residents of Darsilami have on Monday, renewed their call for the demarcation of the Gambia / Senegal border at Tranquil.
In October 2015, officials from the two states constituting the Senegalo-Gambian joint border commission met at Tranquil, in a bid to finding a lasting solution to the ongoing dispute over where the borderline should be drawn.
Present at the meeting were Professor Salieu Njie the High Commissioner of Senegal to the Gambia, the Governor of West Coast Region Sifai Hydara, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Regional Administration and Lands Lamin Sanneh, Gambian and Senegalese Military Chiefs as well as Senegalo-Gambia Joint Border Commission Members.
Residents felt that since this meeting, nothing has happened while their lives remain insecure as confrontation between Gambian and Senegalese soldiers occasionally occurs.
Lamin Badjie, a native of Darsilami said they intended to hold a demonstration against the occupation of what he considered their land by Senegalese troops but that they have decided to postpone it till further notice.
He said: “Seriously we need government intervention – because our lives are at risk. Our properties are being occupied by Senegalese troops without the completion of the border demarcation.”
He later called on the government to complete the demarcation in order to avert any border confrontation.
“The Gambia is claiming that Tranquil is in The Gambia, while Senegal is also claiming the same thing – so, this has disturbed us a lot, especially us living the area,” he lamented.
For his part, Musa Jessey, the Acting Chairperson of the Darsilami Village Development Committee (VDC) also confirmed that their protest was deferred due to lack of a permit. He said the reason for their protest was the occupation of Tranquil village by Senegalese troops, which he said belongs to them.
He alleged that most of the compounds in Tranquil are now under the control of Senegalese troops. He added that the Tranquil border is still a nightmare to them. He also called on both authorities to address the issue before it gets out of hand.
“Even though we were not given permit to protest but we held a discussion with the West Coast Governor on the matter. He advised us to wait to let them discuss the issue with the relevant authorities. So, we will wait,” he said.
He said all relevant authorities should immediately meet and study the border to ensure the border is demarcated to overcome all obstacles surrounding Tranquil.
He said: “To solve the problem is easy – let the governments of the two countries come and demarcate the border. So that we will know exactly where we will stop.”
Efforts made to speak to Darsilami Alkalo and WCR governor were unsuccessful. Attempts were also made to hear from the Senegalese, but due to Covid-19 reporters were not allowed in.
In 2015 technicians from both countries completed their work in determining the border. Talking on behalf of the technicians at the time, one Mr Cham indicated that they were going to demarcate the border starting from Seleti through the disputed area of Tranquil and that in doing their job; they will be guarded by the fear of their lord and not by their nationalities.