By Yankuba Jallow
Residents of Brufut have demanded that their lands seized by the former Government be returned to them.
They held a press conference on Saturday, 5th October 2019 at the community on the challenges they are faced with including lack of social amenities.
Abass Manneh, the chairman of the Village Development Committee sub-committee for the recovery of the community landed properties, said the Government of former President Yahya A.J.J. Jammeh forcefully took their lands from them. He said the former head of state sent security personnel who came and forcefully took their lands from them.
“We are faced with social amenity problems in our community. We do not have any skills centre. We have only one market constructed in the 1950s. Due to its size, people sell in the streets which is unhygienic to us. We have only one health centre, one primary, one junior secondary and senior secondary schools. We do not have a town square and neither a town hall,” Manneh said.
He said the former government claimed that some of their lands form part of the Tourism Development Area (TDA). Manneh said their lands do not form part of the TDA, relying on the ‘Janneh Commission of Inquiry Report that the lands taken away from the community be returned to them.
He said the committee has identified lands that were taken from the community without proper procedure including those that are leased in the name of former President Jammeh.
They said the Straza Land was identified in the 1980s by the community to be reserved for multi-purpose centre, but it was forcefully taken away from them.
He said lands taken from them include TAF (AU Village), Sheraton (now Coral Hotel), Brufut Heights, Straza, land given to CSC Road Construction Company, a vast area of land around the Senementereng Shrine and a vast land between Brufut and Madiana that has been sold to an Estate Agency among others. He added that some of these lands have been leased in the name of former President Jammeh.
He said the community is ready to get back all the lands that were taken from them without proper procedure.
“TAF (AU Village) was taken from us by the former Government forcefully with the use of security forces. People were chased from their residences and some of our elders were beaten by the security personnel,” he said.
He said if returned to them, the lands will be used for future development of Brufut including the construction of skills and multi-purpose centre, garage and market.
He said the community lacks a football field.
“We do not have sporting facilities and we are now confronted with a situation wherein we are unable to have a football field,” he said.
Mr Manneh said the Government of the Gambia has been unfair to Brufut because they are yet to have a good road network.
Lamin Bojang, the Chairman of Brufut Sports Committee said the community has over 40 football clubs with a strong fan base, but they are faced with the challenge of getting a football ground.
“As youths of Brufut, we are in dire need of football field and multi-purpose centre,” he said.
He said the Brufut Primary School has issued them a notice asking them to stop using the school’s football field.
Other speakers talked about the challenges they are faced with in terms of poor social amenities.
They said they will take legal action against any person or group who encroached their community lands.
They called on the village Alkalo, the members of the VDC, the Ministry of Local Government and Land, the Governor of West Coast Region as well as individuals who have the intention of converting or selling the land to desist from doing so.
They said any attempt to deprive the community of these lands wouldn’t be taken lightly.
“We don’t want a replica of what happened in other areas to happen here too. We are ready to take back our lands, but any person or group that wants to stop us will face us,” a member of the Committee told the press.
“No one should try to sell or deprive us of having access to our lands,” he said.