Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Barrow administration must intervene in the Bakoteh - Kololi land grab

The youth of Kololi, Bakoteh, Manjaikunda, Sanchaba and satellite towns are battling Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC), Global Properties and Swami India International Ltd. for a parcel of land that initially belonged to the State by an Act of Parliament.

In 1991, the Land Act was passed transferring the land to the State.  It is unclear when it was transferred to the Kanifing Municipal Council. Equally unclear was whether the transfer was done according to law and if so when did the transfer took place and what were the terms and conditions of the transfer.

The second question is under what authority was the Kanifing Municipal Council acting when it sub-leased the entire track of land, measuring 58,743 sq m and a distance of 992 meters to Swami India International Ltd. on the 15th August 2015 and a total measly sum of D 5,646 (five thousand, six hundred and forty six dalasi) paid on 13th October of the same year as cost of the title deed ("fencing fee"), good for 99 years.  We are in possession of a copy of the sub-lease signed by the CEO of KMC.

What is the relationship between Swami India and Global Properties and how did these two entities come to own this huge track of land and what were the details of the deal. Did KMC or the Mayor, Yankuba Colley or any members of the KMC benefit financially?  How were these financial proceeds treated?

What is/was Yaya Jammeh's role in all of the shenanigans going on not only in Kololi but also in Gunjur and Kartong?  It doesn't look like much has changed since Jammeh left town in January.    

These questions are important and require answers because the lives of tens of thousand, in not hundreds of thousands of lives are impacted by this huge land transaction that will not nothing but to sow the seeds of instability in a country that is trying to find its feet after 22 years of pillage by Jammeh and his cronies.

Last week Monday, the youth of the area, their parents, elders came out to peacefully display their grievances against the CEO of Global Properties, Saul Frazier and Swami India International Ltd. The issue is more than losing a football field, when every inch of open space is consumed by a handful of greedy land speculators and their contractor friends.

We decided to go to press earlier than planned because we learned the police intend to storm and occupy the area, after bribery attempts and other enticements by the land grabbers have failed.  According to our sources, the police they have been going around family compounds urging the youth not to participate in demonstrating against the police; at whose direction one might ask.

It is their right to peacefully demonstrate if they so chose. Where were these land grabbers when some of the colleagues of these same young people were being killed, maimed, tortured, exiled and sent to Mile II prisons by these very same policemen were doing the bidding for Yaya Jammeh?  They are the very same elements the authorities want to unleash on these young men and women who are fighting what they believe to be an injustice.

We are respectfully requesting that the Barrow government intervene in this and similar cases in Farato, Gunjur and Kartong to avert what can only be characterize as a potentially explosive environment.  Gambians will not expel a dictator of 22 years only to permit the same conditions that prevailed in the Jammeh era to continue under the Barrow government.  Things cannot stay the same. They will have to change for the better.
Sources on the ground disclosed that legal recourse is being contemplated and maybe an imminent outcome of what is considered to be a blatant misuse of political and financial power against the residents of Kololi, Bakoteh and the other affected satellite towns.  It is an option that promises to enjoy a wide public support.