Residents of Sukuta Salagi are insisting on the construction of a community market, even though the lands and physical planning authorities ordered them to stop any construction plans.
They say their decision not to comply with the order is because the women there have for long suffered in their search for a community market.
The authorities concerned do not want them to construct the market after the women rejected a piece of land allocated to them by the government. They say they rejected the land allocated “because the land is conflicted, and we cannot take the risk of constructing a market on a conflicted property.”
They are calling on President Barrow “to intervene before this matter gets out of hand”.
Meanwhile, more than a hundred people mainly women and youths protested at the site on Sunday 5th June 2022, and are asking the government not to interfere in their community-led market construction initiative.
“I’m speaking on behalf of the women of this community who have been suffering for so long without a market, and have to travel to the markets in Sinchu Alagie or Sukuta.
Most of the women residents encounter a lot of challenges such as paying fares daily and traveling kilometers to those markets to put food on the table, according to Bintu Colley the secretary general of Sukuta Salagi Unity Association (SSUA).
She added that they have made a lot of efforts to secure a prime piece of land for the construction of a market to no avail.
“During the election campaign, we got a promise from a family in Sukuta that if we vote for President Adama Barrow, we will be provided with a plot of land for a market.
“They fulfilled their promise after President Barrow won the election, but the department of land and physical planning does not want to see this happening.”
However, government authorities are doing everything to frustrate their efforts, including deploying the paramilitary police to the site to stop construction activities, she added.
Maimuna Bah, a resident, and president of SSUA, said any interference by the lands and physical planning authorities will be met with mass defiance. The land they got for the project is easily accessible by all residents, she said.
“We are aware that corrupt officials at the said departments are making all efforts to stop us from constructing this market. We are warning that any authority who wants to stop this market construction should consider spilling our blood because we are all ready to die for this market to be constructed,” Ms. Bah added.
Ousman Bojang, Lamin Jatta, and Lamin Cham alias Boyo all residents also spoke of the hardships of the women of Sukuta Salagi due to the lack of a community market.
They said that to end this suffering, their family decided to offer the piece of land to the women for the market facility.
The trio also expressed their disappointment that lands and physical planning officials have been interfering in the Sukuta Salagi residents’ market project.
They are concerned that the government authorities want to scare the women, and eventually give the land to their friends and family members.
They made mention of land reserved for the construction of a government hospital, which was later sold to one Dr. Yankuba Gassama and Dr. Sillah.
They say such practices in land allocation by the lands and physical planning authorities prompted their family to allocate their land to the community’s women before it is lost to land buyers.