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Final demolition notice worries residents

Jan 28, 2011, 10:08 AM | Article By: Sanna Camara

Several compound heads in Bundung Borehole and Sukuta Nema have received what has been referred to as "final demolition notice" from government to cooperate with directives to demolish their settlements by 3 February 2011.

This has caused a worrying situation for many as they claim to have no place to relocate their families.

The development followed last rainy season's devastating floods that displaced tens of thousands in the country, including the Kanifing Municipality. Reports say government has decided to embark on a massive demolition exercise of settlements believed to be vulnerable to flood and to reconstruct crucial infrastructure to avert a repetition of what seemed to be a disaster.

However, it is causing a worrying situation as government is claiming that there would be no relocation for victims, neither would there be any compensation for the loss of homes.

Momodou Jammeh, a compound head, said he is busy trying to finish the reconstruction of his house in Brusubi to relocate his family as a result of the notice.

His situation is different from Mamading Ceesay, who has a family of six children, ranging from five to 16 years.

Mr Ceesay says he has been having sleepless nights since he received the demolition notice. "I cannot still believe this is true… I gathered my family upon receiving the news and informed them of the dilemma befalling us. We have nowhere to relocate to and we cannot demolish our dwelling houses and live on the street," he lamented.

A letter dispatched to the compound heads claimed that the affected compounds have "illegally settled into the Kotu Stream". This stream stretches across several urban settlements from Kotu Beach, across Manjai, to Yerinjang, Bakoteh, London Corner, Bundung Borehole, Nema Kunku, Wellingara, and Abuko.

A team of surveyors from the Ministry of Infrastructure has also embarked on surveying exercise and settlements that would be affected by the demolition and reconstruction exercise.

The President and the Vice President of the Republic have earlier visited the affected areas. It was suggested that reconstructing the stream was the main alternative to avoiding the disaster.

Meanwhile, government says it also has plans to construct a highway along the stream to link the remote Kotu Beaches to the Brikama Highway.

This will also affect hundreds of households. And government says "no compensation" will be given to the owners of those compounds as they were constructed without development permit from the Department of Physical Planning and Housing.

Below is an excerpt of the "Final Notice" dispatched to the affected compounds:

Notice requiring removal or demolition of building/billboard affected without a development permit or declared unsafe.

"Take notice that being satisfied that the building or fence described below has been erected without a Development Permit (and without the prior approval of the Physical Planning Authority under Development Control Regulation 1995) declared as encroachment under the provisions of the Development Control Regulations 1995.

And being empowered to order its removal or demolition under the provisions of the said regulations, the Planning Authority orders the removal or demolitions of the building/fence before the 3rd February 2011.

Take further notice that upon failure on your part to comply with this Notice, the Planning Authority will arrange for the building or fence to be removed or demolished and charge the costs of such removal or demolition to you."