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Encroachment on FBC land…

Trouble looms at Leicester, Tree planting

 January 30, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai

Residents of Leicester and Tree Planting are currently battling with the ongoing Fourah Bay College (FBC) BADEA Project, after the latter had decided to demolish markets, health and community centres and a mosque illegally being constructed on an encroached piece of land.

The situation, which has been brewing for months now, has a potential to bring serious unrest at Leicester, Gloucester and Tree Planting communities. After several fruitless interventions to resolve the matter, it appears as if the people now need divine intervention.

In an exclusive interview with Concord Times, FBC BADEA Project Manager, Sorie Kanu, said whenever they attempt to clear the piece of land for the construction of Junior Staff Quarters, residents of Leicester and Tree Planting would threaten to burn down the project machines.

“We always request the intervention of police and military personnel before we could be able to do anything on the land. We were not able to demarcate the place for the Junior Staff Quarters. Residents of Tree Planting have resisted every attempt we made to work on that piece of land situated very close to the Botanical garden,” he said.

He said the land after the Leicester Health Centre belongs to FBC and that they wanted to construct 40-bed clinic on the said piece of land.

 “The clinic will serve not only FBC students and staff but residents of Gloucester, Leicester and Tree Planting. The problem now is that Councilor Margret Kargbo has claimed the land and has constructed her office on it. She has been inciting the people to prevent us from working on the said land,” he said.

When contacted, Councilor Margret Kargbo, however, said the land FBC was claiming, has existed even before 1980 when she ‘transferred’ to the community, adding that she was told that the said land was a state property.

 “The facilities on the land in question-the market, health and community centres including the football field and mosque are not owned by private individuals. If they like let them demolish the facilities. I’m not against their project but government has told FBC to leave the land for the people and the authorities are still adamant to adhere,” she said.

She noted that the facilities serve Leicester, Gloucester, Cassada Farm and Tree Planting communities respectively.

She disclosed that FBC authorities have on several occasions tried to demolish the facilities, but on each occasion, residents would mount resistance.

“President Ernest Bai Koroma has even come to the land and warned FBC authorities to leave the land in question for us but they did not heed to that advice. If they demolish the facilities, where would the people go for health care service, or sell their goods?” she questioned.

She disclosed that there were over 15,000 residents in those communities, and that if they demolish all the structures, the people would suffer.

Asked about the allegation that she had constructed her office on the land in question, she said the office was constructed by a project that was brought to the community, adding that it was a very small structure currently being used by the people for meetings.

Meanwhile, Member of Parliament representing Constituency 92, Hon. Pateh Bah, said they were trying to negotiate with FBC authorities so as to see how they could resolve the issue amicably.

“I have taken President Ernest Bai Koroma to the embattled piece of land. He is also concern about this thorny issue within my constituency,” he said, adding that he was currently engaged in serious dialogue with the community stakeholders and FBC authorities in order to resolve it.

He observed that the BADEA project of the college was very important and that he did not want to do anything that would hinder its progress.