By Mustapha Jallow
Uneasiness and fear of what is to come is the order of the day in Kanilai. The recent shooting incident at the entrance of the residence of the former president does not help the situation either.
On a mission to Kanilai, home of former president Jammeh during the weekend, this reporter observed that 4 military checkpoints manned by Gambian troops were stationed on the streets of the village. ECOMIG forces can also be seen positioned before approaching the checkpoints operated by Gambian troops.
Speaking to this reporter, villagers have raised concerns regarding the presence of the regional force and that this has resulted in them fearing for their lives.
The women gardeners in Kanilai village have been hit-hard by water shortage amid poor electricity since the disconnection from the former president’s home to the national grid of NAWEC. The village is undeveloped like any other rural village in the country and residents are crying for water which they are now encountering especially in their vegetable gardens which serve as their main source of income.
Some parents are not allowing their children to go to school. The situation appears calm but some gardeners have abandoned their gardens while others still continue.
Mariama Colley, a gardener said that since the shooting incident occurred they have not visited their gardens regularly, adding that they are also suffering from water shortage and poor electricity. She said without electricity they wouldn’t be able to water their gardens adequately for the healthy growth of their plants.
“I was in my garden working when we heard gun-shots. We later saw crowds then we decided to leave our gardens and run away. Our children are even afraid to go to school and the presence of the ECOMIG forces in Kanilai is a nightmare to us. We gardeners have suffered a lot because this is the only place we rely on to feed our families and pay for our children’s fees. I’m calling on the two forces to continue maintaining the peace in the country and also the new government to take care of the welfare of the women of Kanilai,’’ she said.
Awa Colley, also a gardener who was found selling groundnuts said when she heard the shot she ran under her bed; that for three days they did not visit their garden because of fear. She said though the situation is now calm her main concern is the water crisis.
The Alkalo of Kanilai, Mr. Ebou Jammeh disclosed that on the following day after the shooting incident some senior officials led by the Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) held a meeting with the villagers in order to solve the problem. He added that they also raised their concerns regarding the presence of ECOMIG forces and that they are not comfortable seeing them in the village. .
‘‘During the incident, my wife and some of the villagers left the village and ran into neighbouring Casamance to seek refuge but some have since returned,’’ he said.