The Independent (Banjul)

10 October 2005

Gambia: Brikama in Housing Crisis, Thousands Left Homeless

Banjul — Brikama was plunged into crisis when over two thousand people remained homeless following the demolition of their compounds in Misera, Kumbujeh and Daru Hairu communities.

The residents were claimed to have illegally sited on lands allocated to NAWEC. According to earlier reports, the Physical Planning Department in Western Division issued a letter of notice to residents, asking them to stop construction works and leave the residential areas, which were acquired without their approval.

However, over 250 people on Friday morning stormed the offices of The Independent to express their grievances. The aggrieved people, majority of them, school children and their mothers said they have nowhere to sleep since Wednesday. "We have today become refugees in our own country in the hands of the brutal incapable government."

Seedy Demba, the Alkalo of Kebujeh Madina acknowledged that they did received a letter from physical planning, which informed them to vacate from their compounds immediately. "We went to the commissioner and we were told that the place neither belongs to NAWEC nor a reserve land. The commissioner asked us to go and settle and now they have demolished our compounds."

Lamin Jawneh said when the physical planning sent them the letter; they formed a delegation and met the SoS for Lands Ismaila Sambou who also reaffirmed the commissioner's statement that the land does not belong to NAWEC. "Now we are from the US and Taiwanese embassies where we seek refuge. We urged them to intervene and help convince the government. We presently want to meet the president."

Fatou Jarju opined that the government is playing double standards in the whole episode. "They told us through the SoS and the commissioner that the land neither belongs to NAWEC nor a reserved area but at the same time we are seeing our compounds been demolished."

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