By Nelson Manneh
Fences belonging to families residing in the Kanifing East Layout were demolished yesterday by employees of the company engaged in the construction of the OIC road project. Some compounds within the area are also identified for the same purpose.
These actions have been carried out without prior compensation by the Gambia Government.
Reporting from the scene, this reporter saw the said workers demolishing at least seven compound fences in the Kanifing Estate Layout.
The contractors that embarked on this exercise were escorted by officers from the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) of The Gambia Police Force.
The owners of the affected structures said they were notified prior to the demolition exercise but they were told that before the demolition takes place, they will be compensated for the damage.
Some of the people that were affected, particularly women – cried bitterly as bulldozers brought down perimeter fences from their compounds.
Some shopkeepers hastily packed their commodities to avoid the demolition from destroying them.
Mr Alagie Cherno Jagne said the authorities are using force to demolish people’s compounds without giving them any compensation.
He said initially they were informed that before the demolition would take place, all the victims would be compensated.
“They intimidated us by coming with Police Officers who were fully armed. If there was transparency in the process, then there would be no need for them to come with armed security personnel.
“We are not objecting to any development. What we are saying is that let there be transparency and honesty,” he frowns.
He said the demolition is not fairly done because the demolition should not only be one sided, noting that compounds from both sides of the road should be affected. He described the act of the demolition as unfair.
“This was what the government of Yahya Jammeh was doing; Jammeh used force and intimidation on people, and nothing came out of it,” he said.
Mr Jagne said there are many areas that the authorities demolished in the name of constructing roads but said those roads are still not constructed.
“NAWEC, Physical Planning and other institutions should be present during the process so that they will be able to study the environment to know what exactly should be done,” he said.
“We held a series of meetings with all the stakeholders including the National Road Authority (NRA), Physical Planning, and the Ministry of Lands. They initially told us that the compounds on both sides of the road will be affected but there will be compensation for those affected,” said one Oumie Joof Camara.
Madam Camara, who is a widow, disclosed that in one of their meetings with the authorities, they were told that it is only one side of the road that will be affected while compounds on the other side of the road will remain untouched.
She said in that meeting, she asked the stakeholders why one side of the road should be affected, leaving the other since the road is in between.
“The stakeholders that were present in that meeting were not able to give us any tangible reason. We also heard from them that the government has no money to compensate us,” she disclosed.
Mrs Camara said they told the stakeholders that they don’t want their compounds to be demolished because they don’t receive any compensation and the sketch plan of the said road was not shown to them.
Mrs Bakoto Mboge, another victim whose storey building was marked and part of it is to be demolished, said her husband is late and the said building is where she is living with her children.
“The authorities should compensate us first before they demolish our compounds to enable us to build other compounds to live with our families,” said the widow.
Madam Mboge recollected that there are a lot of compounds affected along the Coastal Road and had still not been compensated.