By Olimatou Coker
Banjul Mayor Rohey Lowe has expressed disappointment over the government’s decision to allocate lands including a graveyard to businessmen without consulting her office.
“We at the BCC are tired of being marginalized on matters concerning the city,” she told journalists yesterday as the Council toured land allocated to businesses near the capital.
“I used to write to the minister of lands to complain about these things but he told me I have no right to write to him. And now I am really confused because I don’t know where to go to complain,” Mayor Lowe said.
She added: “This is why we are now considering preparing our defense to take legal actions against them to stand for Banjul. We cannot allow the government to continue giving out all our lands. If I stand and watch that to happen, then I will not be doing justice to the people of Banjul.”
The lands in question that created tension in the city are allocated to Jah Oil Company, Haddim Gaye Lease Enterprise Container Terminal and Sino Majilac Jalbak. The lands are located at the Denton Bridge, Bond Road and opposite the former Radio Syd. “I am definitely concerned and very disappointed. What saddened me the most is the fact that our grandparents were buried in one of these lands and I am really ashamed to even talk about this and we register our utmost disappointment,” she said.
Mayor Lowe said the BCC decided to come “out to clarify because residents of the city have been making lot of noise about the allocation.”
“I want to say this is not any attempt to witch-hunt Hamidou Jah but it has all to do with protecting the environment and Banjul because the city is very vulnerable,” she added.
She said the BCC has nothing against Hamidou Jah and the other companies but those who allocated the lands to them.
“Those who allocated them the lands are the ones disrespecting our forefathers. I want to tell them that it really hurts to helplessly see your forefathers’ graveyards being bulldozed,” she added.
She said the council is not benefitting from the sand mining taking place in the city.
The Banjul City Council director of planning, Katim Touray, confirmed to journalists that the area allocated to Jah Oil falls within the Muslim cemetery.
The councilor for Soldier Townyard, Tunko Jammeh, told journalists the sand mining taking place in the city is detrimental to Denton Bridge.
He urged the government to stop the mining.
However, the spokesperson of Sino Majilac Jalback, Banka Manneh, said the mayor’s actions were politically motivated.
“If the government did not inform the mayor’s office or the BCC that is not really our problem and maybe they have the right to be pissed off about it and that is okay,” he said.
He said his company is licensed and certified by the Geology Department and National Environment Agency.
The Jah Oil company manager, Momodou Hydara, clarified that the place allocated to them is not part of any graveyard.