By Kebba Ansu Manneh
Scores of residents of Kaur Janneh Kunda have expressed their disappointment towards the National Roads Authority (NRA) for threatening yard owners affected by the ongoing road construction with demolition if they failed to comply with their request.
According to residents, on Tuesday, February 22, 2023, officials of the authority stormed the community with bulldozers, trucks, and labourers to embark on the demolition of properties, noting that this demolition failed to proceed due to the intervention of village elders and youths who blocked the process.
The Voice Newspaper contacted Momodou Dou Senghore, Managing Director of the National Roads Authority who confirmed that a team of NRA officials visited Kaur on Tuesday to engage the villagers on the ongoing road project,
He stressed that demolition is not the duty of NRA but the work of the Physical Planning Department and as such his authority has no hands in the demolition exercise.
Managing Director Senghore stated that it was wrong to embark on any demolition without paying compensation to the yard owners, adding that his office is closely monitoring the developments on the ground and playing by the rules to ensure that affected yard owners are treated fairly and rightfully compensated.
The development is part of the ongoing seventy million dalasi (D70 million) government road construction project that connects Kaur to Simbara Hai village as well as Kaur to Jimbala border villages.
Residents who spoke with this medium expressed their disappointment with the government for not putting its houses in order before embarking on the demolition of properties of poor and vulnerable rural dwellers.
“I was at my house when one of my neighbors rushed to inform me that NRA officials are back again with bulldozers, trucks, and labourers to start the demolition of our properties. I have no choice but to go there and listen to them if they have anything new to tell us but to my surprise, I was informed by the NRA officials on the ground to evacuate everything from my yard,” Baba Jobarteh, emotionally disclosed.
He added: “Their planned demolition comes as a big surprise because up to date the NRA has yet to show us (Yard Owners) the evaluation report nor did they tell us the process and method of compensation but yet want us to send them our person, and bank details.
“Also, we were never informed of any planned demolition either verbally or in writing in dictating the time and date of the demolition exercises.”
He recalled that last month affected yard owners were given notes by the NRA requesting them to send in their bank account numbers, Bban numbers, and Tin numbers, noting that this request was turned down by affected families in the presence of Chief Ali Gaye Touray of Lower Saloum District, as NRA failed to answer to their request for the evaluation report and compensation process and package.
“Our current situation is very pathetic, quite disturbing, and frustrating to see our government trying to kick us out of our properties without giving us compensation that will help us to provide shelter for our families. If not for the intervention of the villagers by now I and my family would have been homeless in our community and our own country which I believe is very unfair to us as rural dwellers,” said Mamudu Gassama a victim.