Friday, April 12, 2024

Kenebaring Jarju Kunda Accuses Physical Planning of Grabbing Their Lands Without Compensation

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By: Alieu Jallow

The Jarju Kunda family of Sukuta has made serious accusations against the physical planning department under the Ministry of Local Government and Lands, claiming that their land has been seized without compensation. The disputed land is strategically located along the Salagi highway, a few meters from SEBEC school.

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According to Ousman Jarju, they inherited the land from their parents, who received it from their ancestors in 1874 when the inhabitants of Bakoteh settled in Sukuta. He emphasized that since the land dispute arose a few years ago, they have approached the authorities for compensation without success.

“We hoped that a portion of the land would be allocated to us as compensation. You can’t take an indigenous native of Sabiji and relocate them to Brufut or Yundum. We were born and raised in Sabiji, so give us the space to live our lives in accordance with the law. For Allah’s sake, the government should balance justice with mercy, respect the laws of the land, and allow us to reside in our lands,” he pleaded.

Ousman Bojang, one of the plot owners with a land size of 120 meters, asserts that in 2019, the Ministry of Lands and the Ministry of the Interior established a panel to discuss the land issue in Salagi, involving their family and the government. According to him, after the meeting, the Permanent Secretary signed a document indicating their compensation, but the government failed to fulfill their expectations. He mentioned that his workshop, where he trains up to 20 young people, was demolished in 2022, and he appeals to the government to resolve the matter amicably, as the place has now been turned into a truck garage.

“We will follow the due procedure as the law prescribes, and I am seeking justice from the courts. They always bring paramilitary forces to intimidate me, but I will not relent because they destroyed my workshop, where I earn my living and employ others. They brought in trucks to park without considering my plight,” Ousman decried.

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According to Sona Jarju, one of the sisters, they cultivate the land every year, but due to animal invasion, they had to halt their farming activity. She stresses that, as women, their families have exceeded the capacity of their allocated land after their father’s demise. She alleged that the former Director of Physical Planning vehemently informed her that the disputed land was taken to be sold to other individuals but assured compensation with plots in Yundum. She outlined that, as women, they struggled to dig the foundation and purchased land to start their house, only to find trucks occupying their space.

“We couldn’t eat due to the level of destruction the bulldozers caused. They demolished everything, including the dug foundation, the sand, and gravel we bought with the promise of refunding our expenditures. We spent over a hundred thousand on dialysis, and we are not employed by the government or a company. We all go out under the scorching sun to earn a living, and that’s how we contribute to obtaining materials for us to have a place to live.”

She said they are now fed up and are appealing to the government to intervene as they have nowhere else to go.

Before going to press, The Fatu Network made several attempts to reach the Director of Physical Planning for comments, but all efforts proved futile. Nevertheless, we will persist in obtaining their side of the story.

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