7 August 2018

Gambia: Faraba Commission - PS Lands and Regional Government Appears

Yesterday on Monday the 6th of August 2018 the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Lands and Regional Government Buba Sanyang appeared before the commission of inquiry of the Faraba Banta incident.

In his testimony, Sanyang said he received a letter from the VDC of Faraba on the 3rd January 2017 requesting for their intervention regarding the mining licence issued to Julakay. Then he said he called a meeting with his team members and they had two areas of intervention, that is, local governance between the VDC and the Alkalo as well as Julakay's entry into other lands.

He said on 9th January 2018 they convened a general meeting where stake holders were invited to attend which includes the attendance of the Director General of the Department of Geology, the CEO Brikama Area Council, the Chief of Kombo East, the Alkalo Faraba Banta, Chairperson VDC, Governor of West Coast region, former IGP and himself the of lands.

During the meeting, he said, he came to realise that the VDC distrusts in the Alkalo. During the explanation, the Alkalo told them that he was informed by Julakay that he got a license to mine but he was told to meet and discuss with the villagers. According to Sanyang, they advised the VDC to discuss with the Alkalo so they can come to terms as a way forward regarding the mining issue.

He added that they also discussed about the allocated place for Julakay to mine but it was alleged by the VDC that "Julakay is entering private properties as well as the village football field" for the new access road to the sand quarry. As a result, he said, they concluded that they will send a technical team to visit the site first, to compare the sand availability regarding the 3.4 hectares allocated to Julakay; and two to observe whether Julakay is entering the private properties including the football field.

He added that during the meeting, he instructed Mr. Jawo who represented Julakay to ask Julakay to stop operation till verification but they were told at the meeting that Julakay has not started working yet. He further testified that, the technical team went to the field and after the visit, they were told to present what they observed at the field but the VDC and the Alkalo told them that they were not aware of the visit. Thus the team was asked to go back to the field with the Alkalo and the VDC.

Sanyang said before the second visit to the site, he received a letter from the police inviting him to a meeting. In the meeting with the police, Sanyang said he told the VDC that they fall under the ministry, and if the VDC has anything to complain about, let them complain to him and further advised them not to be any source of physical barrier to hinder Julakay from continuing his operations.

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