The dispute which has been simmering for at least seven years came to a head when some individuals embarked on a demolition exercise of the structure at the Senegambia Hotel roundabout Saturday morning.
Mustapha Jobe, president of the tourist guides association explained: “The demolition exercise came in the early hours of Saturday at around 4am after we received a letter of demolition purportedly by individuals from the Department of Physical Planning. This is an illegal activity and was done hurriedly. In this country, the official working hours are from 8am to 6pm and these people came late in the night to demolish our workplace. We want President Jammeh to intervene in this crisis because we want justice over our land.”
Giving background, Jobe recounted: “This institution was established in 1996 by an Act of Parliament after government saw it necessary to end the ‘bumpster’ menace. The first batch to be recruited was 60 people who were initially deployed directly to the hotels. But after a successful year, hotel operators decided that they do not want us in their hotels and government decided to give us this place. We have been occupying this place for about 18 years now. Those behind this feud are the owners of Senegambia Beach Hotel…
“This crisis started in 2005, when new owners bought Senegambia Beach Hotel. We reported this to the National Assembly and they gave us a recommendation that Senegambia Beach Hotel should provide a lease document which it failed to do so. In 2011, we struck a deal with Gamcel to promote their goods and services in return for a sponsorship package. We informed the Gambia Tourism Board about it but the management of Senegambia wrote to GT Board and Gamcel saying they own the land [and to nullify the sponsorship]. The new management and the GTBoard later wrote to us about an eviction plan to a temporary location which can only house six people. We were invited to a handing over of the place but we boycotted because we knew they wanted to get rid of us.
“This place was allocated to us by the government but some individuals in high places are saying that this is an illegal structure. We challenged them to take us to court and show us that they are the rightful custodians of this land. I think the tourism sector should be harmonised in a way to serve the interests of Gambians and not foreigners. It is high time that the president intervened in this case.”
We will contact the management of Senegambia Hotel for their side of the story.
Lamin Njie contributed to this story.]]>