217 homes in Yundum risk demolition
Thursday, June 28, 2012
A total of 217 homes situated near the Banjul International Airport in new Yundum risk being demolished to pave way for the airport fencing project which has begun in earnest.
The homes are within the airport perimeter which 21 years ago was clearly marked as a property of the Gambia Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), the body that manages the airport. The said area is not meant for residential purposes and has no official certification given by the relevant authorities for usage as residential area.
In the light of the above, the Department of Physical Planning and Housing, the body responsible for certifying usage of plots Wednesday convened a meeting to inform plot and compound owners who settled within the area about the GCAA’s intention to fence the place.
The meeting, which was presided over by the director of Physical Planningand Housing, Momodou F.K Kolley was attended by officials of the GCAA and was meant to harness and find mechanisms that could be suitable for the fencing or even use other alternative means.
the meeting, Kolleyreminded the
gathering thatthat the meeting
was meant to inform homeowners within the extension of the airport as GCAA has
commenced fencing the whole airport. He clarified the role ofhis department saying they have no
right to reject or force out anyone with a valid document from the authorities.
He then urged the homeowners to show their home documents so as to examine whether settlements are legal or not. He said the GCAA intends to fence the area because it has been reserved for the airport for the past 21 years.
the government have reserve land, it is for the development of that area,” he
told the gathering, while outlining the importance of traditional ownership of
land in any given settlement. “The
traditional ownership of land is still accepted, honoured and respected by the
government of The Gambia,” Kolley added.
“I didn’t call to argue with you but to speak to you the truth and find solutions to the problem,” he further stated, and went on to remind the gathering that the process of the government is always slow but that they don’t forget as they put everything on paper.
speaking at the meeing, Faye Drammeh, a resident of Yundum described the whole
issue as a misunderstanding between the GCAA and the local authorities within
the settlement. He faulted the GCAA saying they kept silent over the whole
matter until the president of the Republic, His Excellency Sheikh Professor
Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh himself sponsored a mosque within the settlement.
He pointed out that the settlement contains a graveyard, praying ground, market and a mosque among others. Drammeh also read a section from the Constitution of The Gambia that stated that government should regard the customary values of the society.
Imam Suteh Sanneh also expressed similar sentiments and emphasised the importance of a mosque and graveyard in Islam, saying their destruction could have an effect on Islam. Alhaji Ousman Bojang, the alkalo of Yundum described the meeting as relevant and thanked the Department of Physical Planning and Housing for inviting them to be part of it.
Jerreh Darboe, another resident of Yundum claimed that the said area belongs to the village of Yundum. He said their grandparents gave to the government a much needed area but that the GCAA never informed them regarding the situation of the said settlement.
Kebba Drammeh also a resident of Yundum said he wanted to know whether the Alkalolu was really notified of the fact that the area belongs to the Airport as reserve land. He said that after the 2004 demolition and fencing of the airport, it was clear to them that the airport has taken what belongs to them. Other speakers included Aja Borry Sonko and Folonko Manneh among others.
Author: Bekai Njie