June 16, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai & Ibrahim Jaffa Condeh
A violent clash occurred between the Police and residents of Crab Town community in Aberdeen, in the west end of Freetown, in the early hours of yesterday, leading to minor mouth injury to one Issa Samura.
Community residents resorted to pelting stones after they were surprisingly ‘attacked’ by the Police for engaging in certain activities along the Aberdeen creek.
The clash reportedly ensued when the Police, led by Local Unit Commander (LUC) of the Aberdeen Police Division, Aiah Edward Samadia, stormed the community to prevent residents from encroaching on a piece of land said to have been allocated to the Tourist Board for the purpose of tourism development.
According to headman of the Crab Town, Vidal Kennick, mayhem broke out in the community when the LUC and a squad of Police personnel stormed the community.
He alleged that the LUC then engaged in a scuffle with one Issa Samura, whom he punched in the mouth, removing one of his teeth.
“Since September 4th last year when our houses were demolished by the government, we have become displaced. Some people sleep at the Mohamed Kallon unfinished building, whiles others remain homeless,” explained Kennick.
He disclosed that Crab Town community was divided into three lines, demarcated by three former Ministers of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment.
“The Bobson Sesay line is where the Tourist Board is situated, while the Dennis Sandy line is the land demarcated by the government for the residents of Crab Town. The Musa Tarawally line is the land which was left for the Environment Protected Agency (EPA). The land that is being battled for is the one that is left for the Crab Town residents, which the Tourist Board has insisted on taking from us,” he further explained.
He added that the LUC was in the habit of sending his men to attack residents of Crab Town community.
However, LUC Samadia explained that a Presidential Committee had been formed to look into the Aberdeen Creek question, headed by Presidential Adviser Dr. Sam Sesay.
He narrated that on Wednesday morning, the Police received intelligence that some community residents, led by Kennick, were installing red flags on reserved piece of land for touristic development.
He added that one of the guys that were pelting stones at the Police was reported to have threatened to kill a staff of the Tourist Board should they enter the land.
Asked about allegation that he scuffled with and hit one resident who was left with a broken tooth, LUC Samadia denied and added that he only arrested the alleged victim.
He said the committee, in which he is a representing the Inspector General of Police, was charged with the responsibility of preventing people from encroaching on the reserved land.
He said that there was a recommended cut-off point for residents – the Dr. Dennis Sandy line – and that no resident should go beyond that point.
He said the Musa Tarawally line was meant for the Environment Protection Agency and that staff of the agency had contracted youths to plant mangroves on the said piece of land.
Speaking to Concord Times at her office, Deputy General Manager of Tourist Board, Fatmata Abe-Osagie said the decision to prevent residents of Crab Town from entering the reserved land was taken by the Presidential Committee on the Aberdeen Creek, comprising ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs).
She confirmed that the Dr.Dennis Sandy line was the one recommended for residents of Crab Town and that 5.72 acres of that recommended line belong to the Tourist Board for the purpose of tourism development.
“It is on these 5.72 acres of land that the community people want to grab. In fact, even though they are residing within the recommended Dr. Dennis Sandy line, they have been asked to produce their documents of legality. I can categorically say that all of them are occupying the land illegally. Because we have been lenient with them, they now want to take advantage of the situation,” she averred.
Asked about claim that the land within the Crab Town community was man-made, the Tourist Board Deputy General Manager replied that the claim was false.
She said residents have been making that claim because they want the government to allow them to occupy the said piece of land without legal documentation.
She stated that they would continue to protect the land for tourism development and that they would do all in their power to prevent encroachers.