By Louise jobe
The Police Intervention Unit of the Gambia Police Force, have been stationed in Faraba Banta village in Kombo East District West Coast Region for one week, according to villagers.
Ismaila Fofana a senior of member of the Faraba Banta Village Development Committee (VDC), questioned the presence of the PIU Officers stationed in their village and said he did not understand why they were also stopping people from going to pick mangoes from their orchards or to get to any orchard; or why the PIU forces are in their village just to protect a Company that is destroying their environment and livelihood, by mining sand in their village rice producing area.
Fofana vowed that as an elected member of their VDC, they will never betray the villagers and will defend their interests; that they will challenge this decision and action by ‘Julakay’ Company to defend their farmlands.
Fofana further said that they have written to the Government to intervene but to no avail; that they have genuine reasons to refuse industrial mining in their community because they know that industrial mining goes with the destruction of the environment, which they will not allow. He said Faraba Banta villagers depend on their “faros for rice production and that the land is their breadbasket.”
Fofana blames Government for not listening to their concerns and revoke the mining licences to defend the farmers. He disclosed that on Friday June 1st, they met National Assembly members and had discussions with them; that NAMs promised them that they will take care of the matter with Government.
Fofana explained the bitter experience of villagers during the rainy season with flood waters coming from the gravel quarry; that the quarry causes floods in the village during every rainy season; that they will not allow matters to get worse with another quarry in their neighbourhood.
Meanwhile seven people were arrested in connection to the construction of a feeder road leading to the quarry where Julakay Construction Company intends to mine the sand. According to Alhagie Bambo Sanyang, they were called for questioning on Monday and Tuesday at the Serious Crimes Unit at Police headquarters in Banjul, but were asked to report on Friday. He stressed that they are law abiding citizens and will allow the due process of the Law, to take its cause.
This reporter visited the quarry and found the feeder road construction on hold. One of the workers who was met at the site, said an Asian national told them to stop the work.
Yahya Danpha a native of Faraba Banta said they will not back down on this matter; that they will defend the interest of the village at all costs.
One Mr. Jassey an elder of the village, said he is a farmer and wants Government to consider them; that the area they intend to mine sand from, is the bread basket of the village in terms of rice production; that the rainy season is very near and farmers are busy clearing their farmlands in preparation for the farming season; that if Government allows ‘Julakay’ Company to mine sand in the rice fields of the village, this will be disastrous for them. He said that Government should look into this matter seriously.