On Monday, January 11, 2016, armed men, backed up by bulldozers, garbage trucks, and public officials, descended on the Brusubi Roundabout popularly called Brusubi Turn Table and demolished any and every structures they could find to the shock of the poor women vendors and taxi operators whose daily living depends solely on incomes from these canteens.
This action was so blatant, even the government’s own mouthpiece, the Daily Observer mustered the courage to interview the distraught women affected by these demolitions. This is an excerpt from the report filed by the paper’s own Alieu Ceesay: “Isatou Secka, Jainaba Tangara, and Sohna Secka, all food vendors said they were shocked at the demolition of their canteens. According to them, they were only aware of the exercise when they came in the morning to sell their goods.
Even though the Council’s CEO said his office has nothing to do with the victims’ occupancy of the area, these women said they used to pay D5 everyday to the Area Council. The affected individuals thus appealed to the concerned authorities to reconsider the decision because this is where they work to earn their living.”
What these women were perhaps unaware of was that this exercise was preceded by a chance visit to their market by their President, Yahya Jammeh. According to Fatu Network’s reliable source within the State House, Jammeh happened to be driving himself on Sunday evening and upon reaching the Turn Table in Brusubi, pulled down the tinted glasses of his vehicle to observe the women petty traders and the taxi garage that serves the Tipper Garage, Sinchu, Yundum Airport Junction, and Brikama areas. He sped off after getting a good view of the place.
What seemed like a casual observation of this busy spot turned out to be the catalyst for the doom of the place, and with it, the dreams and livelihoods of many families – the next morning he ordered the Paramilitary, Physical Planning and Housing, Brikama Area Council, and Ministry of Lands to make sure all the women are kicked out of that place immediately.
An employee at the Ministry of Lands who wishes to remain anonymous complained to Fatu Network that this whole exercise was so blatantly wrong for the simple reason that the local authorities not only never issued any warning to these women, they have also been collecting taxes from them, hence legitimizing their presence there, no matter whether their canteens were set up through the official channels not. “What the President did to these women is so evil and it seems he just doesn’t care about their plight. I gathered through talking to them that this is the place that puts food on the table for them and their families and pays the tuitions for their kids” The employee said with frustration