By Kebba Ansu Manneh
The department of physical planning under the leadership of Mamudu Manjang is said to have ordered the deployment and bulldozing of the new Sukuta-Salagi Community market. This development comes on the heels of the deployment of Paramilitary officers at the market since Monday while Thursday 30th June 2022, they embarked on bulldozing more than half a million worth of properties belonging to women vendors operating at the market.
Speaking to this medium, Bintu Colley who is the public relations officer of Sukuta-Salagi Unity Association (SSUA) expressed shock and disappointment regarding the destruction of canteens, stalls, tables, and make-shift stalls belonging to women vendors. Noting that the number of properties destroyed at the market amounts to more than five hundred thousand dalasi (D500,000.00).
According to her, the Paramilitary Police officers were acting on the orders of the Physical Planning Department who have been trying everything possible to remove the women from occupying a market given to them by the traditional owners of the land. And most of the women whose properties were bulldozed are poor and vulnerable that have to spend all their incomes putting up their stalls and canteens.
She further disclosed that on Wednesday women vendors visited the office of the Regional Governor for his intervention, and he advised them to go back with a promise that on Thursday, Physical Planning will be on the ground in a bit to amicably resolve the matter.
“We are very disappointed that what the governor told us and what had happened were totally different.
“The properties of more than 156 women have been destroyed beyond recognition, it is very sad that these hardworking women will lose all their hard-earned resources in thin air,” Bintu Colley expressed her shock while in tears.
Maimuna Bah, President Sukuta-Salagi Unity Association (SSUA) who was crying bitterly said officials of physical planning have now destroyed enough properties in Salagi on the pretext of reserved lands, noting that most of those whose canteens and stalls spent more than D5000 to D35, 000 to make their stalls and canteens just to add value to the community.
She called on Gambian President, His Excellency Adama Barrow, and his entire Cabinet to look into the plight of more than 800 women vendors who occupy the market. Adding that Physical Planning Department and its senior officials are only interested in selling lands at Salagi on the pretext of designating lands for reserved purposes.
“They have sold all the reserved and now they have fixed their eyes on this market so that if the women abandon this place, they will have the space to sell.
“We are not going to give up because this place has been given to the women by the bona fide owners but sadly Muhammed Manjang, Director of Physical Planning doesn’t want to see this happen,” President SSAU revealed.
She added: “Manjang and his gang have sold almost all the reserved lands in Salagi including a space for a public hospital and a Church. They are doing this because of our loyalty and support to the President in the past election.”
Many other women who were so emotional and shocked by what has happened all expressed their disappointment to the Ministry of Local Government and Lands and physical planning while calling on President Adama Barrow and his Cabinet to react.
Efforts to reach the Director of the Physical Planning Department, Mamudu Manjang were futile as he declined to pick up our multiple phone calls to him.