By Rohey Jadama One compound and the cement block fence of four empty lands in the village of Jabang in the West Coast Region were demolished by the Department of Physical Planning on Tuesday 10th March, 2015. Speaking to this reporter, Sheikh Njie, one of the victims whose compoundwas demolished, said he had acquired his land from the Alkalo of the village 9 years ago and who issued him with an ownership document. He said he has been paying his yard rates to the Brikama Area Council annually. Mr. Njie said to his surprise one Sainey Colley is now claiming ownership of his land. He said on this fateful day “the Physical Planning, accompanied by a personnel from the Police Intervention Unit (PIU) and the said Mr. Colley, including a lady, came with the vehicle that demolishes buildings and told him that they are there to pull his house down. He said a notice from the Physical Planning department was given to him on Thursday, 5 March, informing him that on Tuesday, 10 March, they will be coming to demolish his house as he did not have a development permit to erect a structure on the said land. The notice he showed the reporter states “That being satisfied that the building\fence/ described below has been erected without a Development Permit and without the prior approval of the Physical Planning Authority Under Development Control Regulations 1995/ declared unsafe/under the provisions of the Development Control Regulations,1995 and being empowered to order its removal or demolition under the provision of the said regulations, the Planning Authority orders the removal or demolition of the building/ fence.” It further states that “upon failure on your part to comply with this Notice, the Planning Authority will arrange for the building/fence to be removed or demolished and charge the cost of such removal or demolition to you”. It also indicated that the nature of contravention is “Building on a Disputed Land”. Mr. Njie said this was not the first time the Physical Planning department has been coming to his compound to demolish structures, adding that the first was last year when they came and pulled down the entrance of his house after Mr. Colley made his ownership claim. He claimed that at the time he reported the matter to the Yundum police and that Mr. Colley was arrested but one Mr. Saidykhan came later and told the police that the order came from above thus leading to his release. Mr. Njie said he even wanted to take the matter to court but that the elders of the village advised against it, arguing that it should be resolved amicably. “The first demolition exposed my family to the harsh weather conditions and also dangerous reptiles such as snakes, because we were sleeping in the open house as I did not have the means to raise the wall again,” he said. Mr. Njie, the desperate father of six children, including a baby, appeals to the government to help his family as they have nowhere to go to and are now spending the night outside. However, Mr. Colley, who is alleged to have claimed ownership of the said land, was tried on his phone several times but could not be reached for his version. Foroyaa will continue with efforts to talk to him to get his side of the story. When the Physical Planning department was approached last week to get the official version, Mr. Ismaila Kah, the deputy director, said he was just resuming work from vacation and knew nothing about the issue, adding that the director is presently out of the country. Mr. Lamin Jawara of the Development Control Unit of Physical Planning department said they are not mandated to speak to the press.]]>
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