GOVERNOR AND COUNCIL BATTLE OVER CONTROL OF MARKET STALLS

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By Louise Jobe 

The Brikama Area Council (BAC) is in conflict with the Governor of West Coast Region, Ousman Bojang, over allocation of stalls at the newly built Brikama Central Market.

The council says in a press release that by establishing a market committee that allocates stalls at this market, the Governor is abrogating the powers of the council. It has described this move as misplaced and unlawful. 

According to the officials, only the councils are mandated under both the Constitution of the Gambia and the Local Government Act, to constitute and deal with issues relating to the management, control and allocation of markets.

They said the Governor had earlier notified Council of his establishment of what he described as a market allocation committee, which would include the head of the State Intelligence Service in the region, the police commissioner, and fire service. However, the council said he (Governor) was categorically notified that his committee is illegal, because it seeks to abrogate the functions of the Council’s legally mandated market committee, which is assigned to deal with market matters. The council indicated that the Committee is made of democratically elected Councilors from various Wards within the Region.

They said the Governor was further admonished to desist from such attempts, which would undermine or interfere with the functions and works of the Council, adding that he was further written to by Council’s legal representatives, which was served on him on Wednesday, 6 March 2024. Despite these council’s efforts, it said the Governor on Thursday, 7 March 2024, abruptly invited applicants for the stalls by issuing them with forms and with promises to allocate them stalls. BAC officials said the Governor is charging D500 for each applicant who succeeds with their application, stressing he has no legal mandate to charge or receive funds from the public directly. They said his office is funded from the consolidated revenue funds and not from the direct charges from the market which is supposed to be revenues for the BAC and the development of the region.

The BAC thus said that by virtue of the Constitution of the land, the Council is an entity with high degree of autonomy. 

As a result of this, BAC said they intend to take legal action to ensure that this illegal action of Governor Bojang does not become a precedent as he is trying to rely on a similar precedent which was set in Basse, URR, by President Barrow, to justify this as a settled norm that should be followed.

They said BAC does not recognise such abuse of the law as a norm to conform to and will exercise its powers under Section 126 of the Local Government Act 2002 to pass a resolution petitioning the removal of the Governor.

The officials added that the BAC wishes to notify all those collecting forms from the Governor’s office that they will not recognise the leases granted to them by the Governor in a market that is under the control of the Council. They said only forms issued by the BAC and tenants allocated to stalls in the new building by the council’s market committee, will be recognised by the Brikama Area Council.