Property Owners Unhappy with Headman
July 11, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai
Some aggrieved property owners at Tokeh village have expressed their dissatisfaction over the manner in which, they allege, Village Head, Alhaji James Slowe, has allocated portions of land for their relocation.
But the Village Head told our reporter that the lands were allocated to property owners in that manner because only 300 acres was provided by the government, adding that it was insufficient and impossible for everyone to get equal share, thus imploring residents to accept what has been allocated to them.
Tokeh is a predominantly fishing community situated in the Western Area Rural District and is one of many idyllic communities along the Freetown peninsula that has the potential to attract tourists.
Few years ago, the government requested residents to lease some portion of their lands to certain oil explorers who wanted to construct their base at the village.
Accordingly, 300 acres of land was provided by government for a possible relocation of residents who were affected by the land lease agreement. Even though the proposed oil explorers are yet to undertake any development, the acreages provided by government have been allocated to people, some of whom have begun constructing dwelling houses.
One of the aggrieved property owners, Sulaiman Pieh, explained that he previously owned five town lots but that the village head only gave him two town lots at the current relocation site.
“I’ve told the headman that the land given to me was not commensurate to the plots I had, but he told me that it was not enough to satisfy every property owner in the village,” said Pieh.
Another aggrieved property owner, William Clarke, said although his house has not been demolished, he has only been given a portion of land at the relocated site which is not commensurate to the previous one he owned.
However, Headman Alhaji James Slowe said he had summoned land and property owners meetings on several occasions and explained the situation as to the portion of land allocated by government.
“This whole idea came in 2012 when government asked us to give the land towards the beach to some oil explorers. The explorers, who had wanted to explore oil at Sulima in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, were about to construct their office and other facilities in Tokeh. They said Tokeh is a place very close to Sulima via the sea,” he explained and added “This was why we were given 300 acres in order to relocate those that were affected.”
He revealed that because the land was not enough, they agreed to give three town lots each to some village authorities and one town to each of the other affected land and property owners.
He said some people have constructed dwelling houses at the relocated site while others are still occupying their previous land, adding that what remains to be done now is for the Ministry of Lands, Country Planning and the Environment to issue land documents to them.
“Tokeh is very populated now because of its potential in tourism. We even allocated small portion of land to people who did not own houses but would be rendered homeless, if the village is relocated,” he said.
Headman Slowe alleged that some people have started complaining because the National Electoral Commission (NEC) has announced that elections for village heads will be conducted in October, thus blaming his opponents for “assassinating his character.”