Amid Dispute, Minister Juwara Imposes ‘No Fly Zone’ on Nioro Farms
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
The minister for Regional Governance and Traditional Rulers has banned villagers of Nioro Jattaba from their farms in the wake of recent clashes with Sankandi over land dispute, The Daily News gathers.
Minister Lamin Waa Juwara’s decision came on Friday when a delegation comprising youth leaders from Nioro called on him at his office.
The villagers had reportedly pleaded with Minister Juwara to allow them to continue farming on the disputed farmlands until this season ends, but Juwara instead went by the earlier decision of the governor of that region.
Juwara had closed when this paper went to his office on Friday for his comments. However, a senior staff of his ministry confirmed that he had a meeting with the villagers.
For the past few years, Nioro and Sankandi villages of Kiang West had been embroiled in a simmering land dispute. The latter is claiming ancestral ownership over farmlands on which the former has been farming for several decades.
The clashes that erupted between them last week resulted in the arrest and detention of twenty-five youths from Sankandi and two people from Nioro, including the village head.
This prompted the governor of that provincial region, Lamin Darboe, to put up a temporal ban on farming activities on the disputed farmlands that cover a stretch of about 3 kilometres.
To the frustration of the people of Nioro, the ban came at a time when the farming season has gone half-way, and their crops are maturing.
“We have already invested all what we have on our farms. These farms are our sole source of livelihoods,” Samba Lawo Bah, chairperson of Nioro Jattaba village development committee told The Daily News.
Many farmers in Nioro described the authorities’ decision as untimely. Fears are that if the ban exceeds a period more than two weeks, if not by nature, the hostile animals such as the cattle could rub the fields their greenery.
Alhagie Bah, a farmer who secured two bags of NPK fertiliser at the cost of D2, 040 on the eve of the meeting with Minister was among those affected.
“My family cannot remember surviving a whole year in this village without the produce from this farm, which is about two hectares”, he said.
Meanwhile, The Daily News was informed that the local government authorities have planned to set up a jury to look into the dispute and come up with a binding judgement.
It is not clear when this will come into being. And the question is whether Nioro will be considered for compensation for any damage caused on their farms.
Author: ebriama bah