January 21, 2019
By Joseph S. Margai
Banga Farm community situated at the outskirt of Waterloo, Western Rural District, is on the brink of imminent flooding due to the construction of dwelling houses on wetlands.
But Councilor Mohamed Bilal Kanu of Ward 377 in Constituency 106 in the Western Area Rural District Council (WARDC), said all wetlands in the district are state-owned and that no one has the mandate to construct dwelling houses on them.
“If the council allows massive construction on wetlands, there is an imminent flooding because when it rains heavily, the water may not flow freely in the swamps. Some of the cases of flooding that we do experience here are as a result of human activities and as a ward councilor, I have a responsibility to protect the lives and properties of my ward members,” he said.
Councilor Kanu said wetlands (swamps) in his ward served as sources of livelihood for many people and that constructing houses on the said lands has the tendency to depriving women that rely on agricultural activities as their livelihood.
“Most of the women that are dependent on these wetlands are single parents. Everything that surrounds their lives depends on these swamps. As their representative, I can’t sit down and see them out of jobs,” he noted.
According to him, he was not aware as to who bought the wetlands and from whom, but has decided to protect all state-owned land in his ward and vowed not to put his subjects’ lives at risk.
Headman, Banga Farm community, Abdulrahman Olu Kamara, expressed dissatisfaction over the manner at which encroachers were constructing houses on wetlands in the community, noting that nobody had informed him about the said construction.
“Most of the women in this community relied on those wetlands for their daily bread. They also use the proceeds from their agricultural activities to pay university fees and take care of their domestic affairs,” he explained.
Chairman, WARDC, Kasho J. Holland-Cole, said no one has the authority to construct houses on wetlands, which he said belongs to the state. He said council has the authority to stop anyone from constructing houses on wetlands.
“Even the gardeners whose lives dependent on those wetlands, always register with the council and the council officials in turn would advise them to be very careful not to destroy the environment,” he said.