December 1, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
The BADEA Project which is rehabilitating existing structures and constructing additional facilities on Fourah Bay College (FBC) campus is currently battling with residents of Tree Planting community over a parcel of land which contractors want to utilise for the construction of senior and junior staff quarters, clinic, and other facilities.
According to the BADEA Project Manager, Sorie Kanu, the disputed land belongs to Fourah Bay College but there have been attempts by residents of Tree Planting to grab it.
“Residents of Tree Planting community via Leicester Road were claiming to have owned the piece of land where we want to construct additional structures. They have been threatening to burn down machines of any contractor that might attempt to work on the piece of land,” he said.
He disclosed that they have hired the Police to provide security for contractors on daily basis, as well as spend additional money to pay private security personnel to protect the land.
The BADEA Project Manager said the land would host the senior and junior staff quarters, the proposed School of Architecture, 40-bed FBC hospital that would serve both students and staff of the college and residents of Leicester and Tree Planting community.
He said they have decided to construct those structures on that piece of land in order to frustrate encroachers.
He noted that the issue has reached President Koroma and that encroachers have been warned to quit, adding that they have requested over 500 acres of land that originally belonged to FBC.
“They begged FBC to give some pieces of land to them as reparation and the authorities have given about 2.3 acres to them. They are still not satisfied because they are demanding more,” he explained.
He alleged that one Councilor Margret Kargbo has been leading the people to disrupt ongoing construction work.
When contacted, Councilor Margret Kargbo of Ward 326 said she had pleaded with the residents to allow the BADEA Project go on peacefully.
“I led the survey on the disputed portion of the land and when residents of Tree Planting disrupted the construction exercise I ordered their arrest. They have been negotiating with FBC authorities to give them a portion of the land which hosts the market, community centre, hospital and a football field, which is sometimes used as a praying ground for Muslims. It is not even up to an acre but FBC is adamant to give them,” she said.
She claimed to have led a delegation to State House to explain the issue to the President, noting that they have held several meetings in a bid to finding a lasting solution.
“In my absence the contractors went to work on the land but they were prevented by residents of Tree Planting Community. I called them and threatened that anyone that disturbs the project will be sent to jail,” she said.
Councilor Margret claimed that President Koroma had visited the disputed land and ordered FBC authorities to forgo portions that host the hospital, community centre and the field for residents of Tree Planting, but to no avail.