FARABA BANTA COMMISSION..

BY KEBBA MAMBURAY 

The Administration Manager of ‘Julakay’ Company, Babucarr Jallow, yesterday July 17th 2018, testified before the Faraba Banta Commission set up by the president, to probe into the unfortunate incident of that fateful day of June 18th 2018, when live bullets was sprayed on unarmed demonstrators, leaving three people dead and scores seriously injured. According to Jallow who spoke in English, ‘Julakay’ Company signed two MOUs including the provision of D100,000.00, for the Village Development Committee, VDC; that he attended a meeting summoned on the 23rd May 2018,, at the Gambia Police Force conference room in Banjul, by the former IGP Landing Kinteh, in response to a petition they wrote; that those in attendance were the former IGP himself, Deputy IGP Abdoulie Sanyang, Serious Crimes Unit representative and other stakeholders in the persons of PS Local Government and Lands, Director of Geology Department, the Alkalo of Faraba Banta, Council of elders of Faraba Banta and members of the VDC; that the meeting was chaired by the former IGP, Landing Kinteh. Jallow testifies that the reason for the meeting, was to bring an amicable solution to the whole issue; that the position of the IGP at the meeting, was to ensure the problem is solved because ‘Julakay’ Company acquired the relevant documents to embark on the project.

According to Jallow, the Alkalo position at the meeting, was to give background information regarding on how ‘Julakay’ Company came to operate his sand mining business in Faraba; that the end of the meeting was conclusive because the PS Local Government and Lands, told the gathering that if the VDC has other issues, they should come to him and lodge their complaints and allow ‘Julakay’ to carry on with his mining; that the VDC left unsatisfied and unhappy at the end of the meeting.

Jallow testified that he never attended any meeting in Faraba; but that on Saturday May 26th 2018, he led a team to Faraba to visit the construction of the access road; that upon their arrival, they saw some PIU officers who told them they were there, to ensure the security of the staff of ‘Julakay’ Company.

He further testified that within forty five minutes, he heard a hubbub from a distance and called the attention of his staff and advised them to stay calm and continue doing their work; that he later saw the PIUs running from the crowd towards a mango plantation as the crowd started stoning at them; that he immediately addressed his staff to stop work and keep calm; that he saw the crowd stoning one of the graders but the driver managed to escape but sustained injury in the process; that during the process, one of their TATA pick truck, was destroyed.

Jallow told Commissioners that as the stoning continued, they ran for safety under a mango tree where they sat until the tension eased; that PIU reinforcement later arrived but that they left when the crowd started to disperse; that before their departure, one Bojang a PIU Commission Officer, told them him that they will redeploy some Officers to guard the place; that few days after the incident, he was called to the Brimaka Police station but was not charged.

In another development, the Executive Director of National Environment Agency NEA Momodou Jama Suwareh, also testified before the Commission. Suwareh said he knows ‘Julakay’ Company prior to the start of their operations in Faraba Banta; that on 30th May 2017, they received a letter from ‘Julakay’ Company, applying for environmental approval to operate a sand quarry at Faraba Banta; that on the basis of the letter, a visit was made to the site on June 28th 2017, by a representative from the NEA, Geology department and ‘Julakay’ Company itself, before approval was granted to them.

Sittings continue today.   

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