Tuesday, September 26

Manduar community wants sold Community Forest Sold to LK Real Estate Company Return

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By Kebba Ansu Manneh

The residents of MannehManduar in Kombo Central District, West Coast Region (WCR) are demanding for the Community Forest measuring about 1000m by 500meters which has been sold to LK Real Estate Company by the Alkalo (village head) return to the community.

The Alkalo of Manduar, JerrehBojang, confirmed giving the 1000m by 500meters to LaminKongira, Chief Executive Officer of LK Real Estate.

According to the Alkalo, LaminKongira came to him and appealed that he should help him out with the land to avoid going to court, and out of sympathy the Alkalo decided to allocate a portion of land to him but he (Kongira) went beyond where he was allocated.

This reporter gathered that Manduar Village Development Committee (VDC), as well as the Regional Forestry office, were not aware of this move was orchestrated by the Alkalo.

The situation has compounded with the threats real estate companies are inflicting on the bona fide residents of the community forests across the West Coast Region in particular.

“I can confirm that part of our community forest measuring 1000m by 500meters has been tampered with and given to LaminKongira, Chief Executive Officer of LK Real Estate. Unfortunately, part of this community forest has been given out to this real estate company without the approval of the VDC who is the custodian of this community forest,” Balla Musa Sanyang, Chairman of the Forest Committee, Manduar said.

He explained that “When we did our findings, we understood that it was the Alkalo who unilaterally demarcated this portion of the community forest to LK Real Estate. This act of the Alkalo is very unfortunate and disappointing because it took the villagers a lot of effort and time to register this community forest with the forestry department.”

Chairman Sanyang disclosed that his committee had engaged the village Alkalo on the matter, disclosing that the Alkalo informed them that CEO of LK Real Estate appealed to him to give him a portion of the land because he might risk going to jail if he cannot secure land for some of his clients who are ready to take legal actions against him.

According to him, more than 4000 Maliana Pecks that were planted during last year’s planting exercise were destroyed including Rhum Palm seedlings. He added that it is common knowledge that Manduar Community Forest has been sealed and Gazetted by the relevant government authorities since 2001.

BabucarrSowe, Chairman of Manduar Village Development Committee also spoke to this medium and expressed his disappointment regarding the demarcation and selling of the community forest, adding that his committee will take all necessary actions to recover the portion of the forest sold-out to LK Real Estate Company.

He said this is not the first time the Manduar Community Forest will be targeted and destroyed by Real Estate Agents, noting that the community is currently grinding it out with a certain real estate company on a similar issue.

LaminBajo, Director Regional Forestry office in Brikama said his department is aware of the demarcation of the Manduar Community Forest for private use, noting that such actions are becoming popular in the West Coast Region by real estate agencies that are tampering with community forest parks.

“It’s very sad and worrying that they (real estate agencies) are encroaching into reserved community forests across the region. This act is unacceptable and our advice to all the communities is to take legal action against any real estate company that encroaches on their forest parts,” said LaminBajo, Director of Regional Forestry office, Brikama.

He added: “The level of destruction of the forest cover is a grievous concern to us that can only be addressed by the courts. Unfortunately, there are lots of forestry cases at the Judiciary that are yet to be addressed and this situation is empowering the Alkalos and Real Estate Agencies to continue with the act of forest destruction for commercial purposes.”

This medium spoke with the Alkalo of Manduar, JerrehBojang who stated that the matter is under discussion at the village level in a bid to resolve it amicably. LaminKongira, CEO of LK Real Estate Company, was also contacted to shed light on the matter but he declined to comment.

When contacted for his comments by The Voice Newspaper, LaminKongira, CEO of LK Real Estate Company said the matter is currently before the Police and dropped his phone.