Amid accusations of land grabbing and a fresh row over the location of a new market, the department of Physical Planning embarked on a massive demolition exercise at Sukuta-Salagi on Thursday 30th June, 2022 in the early afternoon.
The demolition exercise saw a Bulldozer roll through several stalls and new structures as a heavy Paramilitary Police unit supervised the process.
Speaking to The Alkamba Times at the demolished market, Bintu Colley said the demolition of the community market came as a ‘big shock and surprise’, noting that they have met the Governor of the region to discuss issues regarding the market and authorities promised to convene a meeting between residents and the department of Physical Planning.
She disclosed that market women turned up early morning to attend the proposed meeting, but were barred by a group of Paramilitary Police officers who dispersed them before the deployment of a bulldozer to demolish all their stalls and canteens, adding that more than half a million dalasi worth of property belonging to one hundred and fifty six (156) women was destroyed at the market.
According to her, the market women were not notified of the demolition exercise.
Colley said the market was given to the women of Sukuta-Salagi to end the prolonged drudgery faced in accessing nearby markets in mainland Sukuta, Serrakunda and Sinchu Alagie.
Faye Darboe, a 53-year old woman said she is dismayed and disappointed that the government that should protect them can mete out such a punishment on them, disclosing that their families depend on the daily sales made from the market for sustenance.
“I spent more than two thousand five hundred dalasi (D2, 500) to make the table that I placed my goods on, but it has all been bulldozed and destroyed. More than one hundred and fifty (150) women have tables here, canteens and stalls where goods and other property is stored. Its all gone and sadly the security didn’t even allow us to pick our belongings and goods,” Faye Darboe explained.
She added: “We are so disappointed and shocked, the destruction done here is huge and difficult to consume.
“Imagine some of the women invested up to D25, 000 to build their stalls, others spent D10, 000 to D15, 000 to erect their canteens, this is very hard to process.”
Ousman Bojang who lost his entire carpentry workshop, a borehole, a poultry house and buildings expressed his shock and disbelief in the conduct of the physical planning, disclosing that more than one million six hundred thousand dalasi (D1,600, 000) worth of products and property was razed during the demolition exercise.
Bojang further claimed that the land allocated to the women of Sukuta-Salagi for the market as well as his compound and workshop belongs to their family and some officials at the lands department want to take it without his families consent.
He challenged physical planning to produce the investigative report delivered by the Interior Ministry Panel, which he said identifies owners of all lands in Sukuta-Salagi.
He called on the attention of the government on the demolition exercise conducted by physical planning resulting into heavy lost of investment by women, observing that the Minister of Local Government and Lands should launch an immediate investigation into the matter.
Many affected market women openly expressed anger, surprise and disappointment over the demolition, calling on Government and the Ministry of Local Government to act immediately and compensate for all damages and loss.