Scores of residents in Kaur have expressed fear and concern over an order issued by the National Roads Authority (NRA) for Yard Owners to vacate their houses and structures as soon as possible.
The development comes on the heels of the ongoing rural road projects spearheaded by the Government of The Gambia.
Many residents who spoke to TAT disclosed that on Wednesday, 14th December 2022, officials of the Roads Authority visited Kaur, where they urged affected yard owners to send in their bank details for compensation.
Officials also urged Yard Owners to remove their fences, roofing, buildings, and any other valuables that may be affected by the road construction project.
Mamudu Gassama, an affected Yard owner, said his family contacted him about the visit by NRA officials who demanded their Bank details and National Identity Cards.
He described the actions of the National Road officials as ‘surprising,’ saying many Yard Owners have not been told how much they will be compensated, nor did they discuss the matter with NRA.
“Before NRA asks us about our Bank details, they should discuss with us, so we know how much each will be compensated. We never discussed the mode of compensation with NRA, and asking a poor rural farmer for bank details seems funny because most of those affected have no bank account,” Mamudu Gassama said.
He added: “We are being asked to leave our houses because road works can reach our compounds any day from 24th December 2022. I want to urge the NRA to reconsider its decision and engage us with a roadmap on how they will compensate and give us time to secure a compound or even find accommodation within the community for our families.”
Another resident, Baba Jobarteh, said the verbal notice for Yard Owners to vacate their properties and dwellings is very prompt, unofficial, and without a specific time limit.
“the demands for submitting their Bank details were not written on the official letterhead of NRA but on a piece of paper,” He told TAT.
He affirmed that most of those affected are without bank accounts and have no money to buy land to stay with their families, and compensation should be the first item on the table before eviction.
“We have more than ten families affected in our Kabilo who are all farmers and are financially unprepared to buy land and develop it for themselves. I want to call on NRA to consider the situation of these poor farmers, pay their compensations cash, and give them time to secure new accommodation; otherwise, most of us will be homeless,” Baba Jobarteh appealed.
He added: “We don’t have any problem with the road construction; it is for our development, but at the same time, not compensating us will make our lives unbearable. So we call on all who matter to prevail on NRA to do things right and pay us before asking families to vacate our compounds and properties.
Another single mother who preferred anonymity said the decision to vacate their compound as soon as possible is terrifying for her family, noting that they have nowhere to go because of the lack of the resources to buy or secure land.
“I fear the worst because I don’t know where to go with my family; this is a nightmare for us. All I can do is appeal to the Government to consider its decision and first provide us with accommodation where we can stay with our families; without that, we will be homeless in our community.”
This is not the first time residents of Kaur have raised eyebrows about the Rural Roads Project in Kaur.
Last year many farmers whose farmlands were affected by the road works said NRA failed to capture them in their compensation list. They argue that the farms are their primary means of income, and depriving them of work on those lands denies t of their livelihood.