The Brikama Area Council (BAC) has decided to take legal action against the Gambia Police Force, National Roads Authority (NRA), and Physical Planning Department for sanctioning the destruction of structures at the Brikama Central Market and Brikama public car park, both properties of the Council.
This was stated in a General Council resolution passed on Tuesday, 14 November, 2023
A source familiar with the resolution told TAT that it is about “the destruction and vandalism of properties situated in the market and garage that have nothing to do with the clearing of the highway.”
The resolution emphasized that “the market and garage are entirely under the purview of the Area Council and have nothing to do with the road-clearing exercise.”
“Brikama Area Council (BAC) expresses its dismay, disappointment, and condemnation over the actions of the Gambia Police Force, the National Roads Authority (NRA), and the Department of Physical Planning for their unauthorized demolition of the market stalls in and around the Brikama Central Market, from 8 November 2023 to date, in the name of Operation Clear the Roads,” a press release issued by the BAC declared.
It added: “The BAC maintains that it is only the BAC that has the legal authority empowered by Sections 193 and 194 of the Constitution of the Gambia 1997 and Section 48 of the Local Governments Act 2002, which enjoins the council to “exercise all Political and Executive powers and Functions” in the region, and further enjoins it with the legal authority to establish, erect, demolish, control, and manage markets in the region.”
According to the Council, “none of the aforementioned stakeholders, being the GPF, NRA, and Physical Planning, have any legal authority to exercise such powers over its markets without its blessing or an order of the court of law..”
The Council said the “operation had no such blessing from it nor any court of law.”
“BAC condemns the actions of the stakeholders at the Brikama Central Market from 8 November 2023 to date without any consultation, engagement, or notification of the BAC.
“The BAC does not and will never condone, neither endorse nor sanction any such destruction of its markets in the name of any task force or operation.”
Consequently, the Council went on, it has engaged its legal representatives to take all necessary legal action to put a stop to the ongoing destruction of its markets by the said stakeholders, as well as to seek any appropriate redress for the same, in order to deter the future recurrence of the same.”
Council “believes that task forces of such nature belong to the era of dictatorship in the history of this country, and are inappropriate in a democratic system, as they do not conform to the principle of the rule of law, which accords everyone with reasonable notice and an opportunity to challenge any arbitrary decision to the courts before their implementation.
“Resolution is passed to institute legal action against the demolition exercise destroying and vandalizing many areas of our markets that have no link to a highway.
“NRA and Central Government claim to clear the congested highways but have no hand in our markets and carpark.
“It is wickedness, heartlessness, and a politically-motivated ploy to disrupt or paralyze our revenue generation, and this is not acceptable,” said Councilor Momodou Charreh Gibba, who spoke to TAT.
He added: “We will go to the courts to seek an injunction first to let them stop the nonsense. We believe this is the only way out as the market and the garage are entirely under our purview and have nothing to do with the roads clearing.”
In a separate but related development, Gibba, the head of the Council’s Establishment and Recruitment Committee, also confirmed that the Council passed a resolution for the return to work of seven revenue collectors recently suspended on suspicion of graft.