By Kebba Ansu Manneh
Scores of women vendors in Salagi whose stalls and canteens were demolished recently by the Physical Planning Department have emphatically rejected the offer from Physical Planning Department for them to move to a new designated market allocated by the department. Thus they are ready to face another demolition rather than moving to the new market allocated by the physical planning.
They alleged that the land allocated to them by the physical planning to construct Salagi market is conflicted and belongs to Sillah Kunda family of Sukuta who is currently grinding it out with the State for forcefully taking over their land without compensation.
The reaction of the women vendors comes on the heels of a notice sent to them by the Physical Planning Department ordering them to vacate their stalls and canteens situated on the roadside on or by Friday, 12th August 2022.
The letter also advised the women vendors to move their stalls before the due date or risk demolition or removal that will be put into their bills. Also added that stalls and canteens were erected by the women vendors without a development permit and approval from the West Coast planning authority.
Aminata Sanneh, expressed the frustration of the women vendors regarding their situation with the physical planning department. She disclosed that the department has demolished stalls and canteens belonging to poor and vulnerable women without compensation. Adding salt to injury, she said the department has served notice to the vendors to leave the roadside or else they will risk another demolition by the 12th of August, 2022.
According to her, the ploy was designed by senior physical planning officials meant to frustrate them to leave Salagi, but quickly added that the women vendors are keenly waiting for the physical planning on their demolition plan.
She observed that there is nowhere in the country where physical planning has ever forcefully removed roadside sellers or demolished their stalls and canteen but only in Salagi which made her describe the issue as witch-hunting on women of Salagi.
“If physical planning is not witch-hunting us why did they choose to demolish these stalls on the roadside at Salagi and leave all other roadside sellers across the other part of the countries? What we want to say is we are not stopping our business here and it is left to physical planning to bring their Caterpillar to demolish everything here just like what they did the last time where we lost over D500, 000 worth of properties.”
She assured the Physical Planning Department of not going back from the decision of the Salagi women vendors over this matter.
Meanwhile, she said physical planning should have provided compensation to hundreds of women whose canteens and stalls were demolished before bringing notice to them.
“Since they forcefully demolished our properties no single vendor sold on the demolished site and we have been selling on the roadside where they are asking us to leave,” Bintu Colley affirmed.
“We are calling on the government to stop this aggression,” and when did it become a crime to sell at the roadside, because anywhere you go in this country you will see people selling by the roadsides either at the markets or on the streets,” madam Colley asked.
Dilating on the women’s refusal to move to the new market site designated to them by physical planning at Salagi, Wulla Bojang said the land allocated by physical planning is in conflict and the women of Salagi are not ready to sacrifice their lives by trading in a conflicted land.
According to her, the same family whose property was forcefully taken over by the regime of Yahya Jammeh for the Brusubi market is the same family who is battling it out with physical planning at Salagi.
Because of this, she added, most women are with fear to move to the physical planning allocated market due largely to the past experiences of the Brusubi market where the government invested millions but to no avail.
She divulged that it is better to sell by the roadside than sacrifice their lives on land that is already in a war. “This is our situation and we want to appeal to the President and his cabinet to intervene before this matter will go out of hand,” she appealed.