By Louise Jobe
The dispute over farmlands between the communities of Suluko and Sare Jama villages in Jarra Central District continues to simmer, without any possible resolution in sight. A recent fire incident alleged to have been cause by a contending village in this farmland dispute nearly claimed some compounds in Suluko, when villagers of Sare Jama allegedly left fires burning from their farmlands uncontrolled, and this reached the outskirts of Suluko village. The fire incident is said to have happened on Thursday 10th June 2021 during the evening, when the villagers of Sare Jama went to burn slashes left in their farms to dry, in preparation for the farming season.
Lamin Ceesay, the Alkalo of Suluko village accused one Laalo Baldeh of causing the fire out break which later burned a nearby forest park.
According to Ceesay, Baldeh always instigates his people during this time of the year, to cause such problems between the two communities; that he has reported him to the Jappineh Police Station on three occasions regarding the same issue, but the problem still persist.
Ceesay alleged that the uncontrolled fire led to the burning of the community forest and the destruction of small ruminant and cattle grazing areas, as it approached some compounds in his village, where there is no fire belt for protection of the village.
According to Ceesay, the incident has been reported to Abdoulie Camara the Forestry Officer-in-charge of the area, who lives in Jarra Bureng, but was yet to visit the scene up to the time of going to press. Ceesay said Suluko village is one of the oldest communities in the area.
When contacted by this reporter, Forestry Officer Camara confirmed receiving the information from the Suluko Alkalo; that he is fully aware of the land dispute between these two communities and said he will not allow them to use their differences to destroy the country’s forest cover and natural resource.
He however said that the fire incident was not reported to him on time, in order to determine how and where the fire started.
On his part, Laalo Baldeh of Sare Jama village strongly denied that he and his children did not start the fire.
When asked, Bouye Baldeh, the Alkalo of Sare Jama village said that he was not even aware of the fire incident. He however said that the Alkalo of Suluko village was their stranger and was given the land that he now calls Suluko village, to settle.