By Mafugi Ceesay
Nfansu Conteh, alias Jung Conteh, a member of the Council of Elders of Faraba, has told the Faraba Commission that his people were united until the Julakay Group came to mine sand in the village.
According to Conteh, Julakay’s coming proved to be the most explosive issue in the village which could not be resolved through the normal Bantaba meetings held to address issues affecting the village.
“Since this Julakay issue erupted, the VDC have not and is not listening to us anymore. I am the host of Julakay but he only visited my house once and that was when he was there for me to accompany him to see the chief,” Conteh said.
He lamented that if there had been a better working relationship between the council of elders, the Alkalo and the VDC, the issue of Julakay would not have exploded out hands.
He said most Alkalolu, even the educated ones among them are afraid of the VDC.
Conteh also observed that part of the problem is that the village Alkalo is not resident in the village but in Brikama and is running the village from afar which is not acceptable to many villagers. “I am not happy myself with that because people have problem that needs urgent intervention and the Alkalo is often not there at the time,” he said.
Mr. Conteh said he disagreed with the VDC’s claims that mining will spoil the rice fields because the VDC themselves were mining there long since and nothing happened to the rice fields because there are lots of waterways in that area.
He said the VDC objected to Julakay mining because that will stop their own illegal sand mining, adding that the D100, 000 given to the VDC by Julakay did not satisfy them which was one of the reasons they objected to him mining there.
He revealed to the commission that the previous VDC also conducted sand mining at the village for 20 years when they were building the village market, mosque and even allowed neighboring villages to mine sand for such purposes.
Mr Conteh told the commission that it is only the current VDC that mine sand for commercial purposes.
He confirmed to the commission that the current VDC uses part of the money gained from the commercial sand mining to buy cash power for the village boreholes.
Mr. Conteh further alleged before the commission that the term of office of the current VDC has already expired six months back but they have refused to hand over.
Mr. Conteh accused the VDC of misinforming the villagers by claiming that it’s the council of elders and the Alkalo who are selling all their lands to Julakay.
Meanwhile the commission yesterday heard the testimonies of the PIU personnel connected to the 18 June violence but journalists were not allowed to cover their testimonies.