Gov’t to face legal battle over market demolition

Jul 4, 2022, 10:45 AM | Article By: Sulayman Waan

The Sukuta- Salagi women said they will sue The Gambia government to court for demolishing their market and destroying valuable materials without any formal notice.

The Sukuta-Salagi Unity Association in partnership with Sukuta-Salagi women and other satellite communities established a new market and urged the government to recognise and maintain for them – a call the government ignored. 

The government, however, through the Ministry of Lands has claimed that the said land is being reserved for other state purposes. But ever since, the women maintained that they needed that area for a market. 

Last week, the government ordered the demolition of the new market and other private structures within the vicinity despite several appeals from the women.

Speaking to journalists at Sukuta-Salagi shortly after demolition of the market, Bintou B. Colley, the secretary general of Sukuta-Salagi Unity Association, said: “We will engage the Female Lawyers Association so that we can sue the government. We do not fear anything because we have rights as citizens.”

She added that the Department of Physical Planning has demolished the market and destroyed all their tents without noticing them or making any form of negotiation with the women.

Madam Colley said the tents and shops destroyed in the market were worth approximately D500, 000. She justified that the women vendors had purchased woods and corrugated iron sheets to make their tents.

“I have spoken to the secretary of the governor of the West Coast Region via phone and told the person that the demolished tents are worth about D500, 000.

“This looks small but it is very expensive. Some women had to buy wooden sticks at D360 and also bought corrugates to roof their tents. We often pay men about D1500 or D2500 just to make our tents or stalls. This is expensive,” she argued.

She added that some vendors had purchased metallic stalls at D25, 000 or D30, 000 but only to be demolished by the Department of Physical Planning.

Wuya Bojang, a vendor, said: “I personally have lost D2500 worth of wood and a tent. I also bought my goods at D2000 – but could not sell them due to the demolition.”

“We will not let this destruction go in vain. We will engage the Women’s Bureau and then go to the court so that we regain the money we had spent.”

Sukuta-Salagi men had participated in a series of recent press briefings over the past weeks regarding the new market but none was seen in solidarity with the women during the demolition.

However, Madam Bojang said their men had received information that they could be arrested upon any attempt to deter the demolition.

Aminata Sanneh, a vendor who claimed to spend D27, 500 on her stall, justified that the government has started ordering the demolition of private structures and markets without following the due processes.