By Aisha Tamba
Hundreds of Brufut youths on Saturday staged a solidarity march, trooping the length of the town to the now famous Strasser football field at the entrance of the Brufut Heights. Chanting slogans reading ‘Strasser is not for Sale’, the youths expressed their resolve to resist any attempt by the state or other groups to deprive them of the only available land they intend to use as a recreation park for sports and other multi-purpose recreation use.
Situated right by the highway at the entrance of the Brufut Heights, the empty land which was first said to be a Tourism Development Area, TDA, was grabbed by former President Jammeh, years after the Jammeh regime sold 75 percent of the area to private home owners, despite it being designated as TDA.
It has however been used as a football field long before the land grabbing started.
With the advent of the new regime and the recommendation of the Janneh commission for all community lands to return to the communities, the Brufut sports committee and other groups in the town have come together to demand that all returned land should now be used for community purposes such as car parks, markets and other badly needed social amenities.
Last Saturday’s solidarity march was focussed on the Strasser football field.
Mariama Saine, an activist and native of the town urged the government to listen to the voice and cries of the Brufut youths in their desire to reserve and benefit from the only remaining lands of their fathers.
“Brufut has been a great actor in the efforts to bring about this change and therefore the government should listen to the people of Brufut”, she said.
Other participants in the march complained that though Brufut has some of the best and most strategic lands in the Gambia, the community has not benefitted from it.
”All the lands have been stolen by the Jammeh regime to be used as either the Taf Brufut Gardens benefiting only one private individual, or the Brufut Heights which is also sold to private individuals. Other Brufut lands went to be used as the Brusubi Housing Estate while others have been designated as wild life or forest preservation parks. So it is only natural for the government to listen to the cries of the people of Brufut to use the remaining land for the benefit of the communities. This should not be difficult to understand, one participant complained.
”The chairman of the Brufut recovery committee, Abass Manneh said the gathering is called to send a message to both the people of Brufut and the government about the concern of the youths to keep the Strasser and into develop it to a Multipurpose Centre.
“We want this field to be erected as a Multipurpose Centre which will provide facilities for all sports, a hostel and things related to sports in general. We are determined to ensure that this becomes a reality,”he said.
The chairman of the Brufut sports committee Lamin Basse Bojang said: “These is an absolute need for a big town like Brufut to have a sports facility for its growing population. We cannot continue using the primary school playing grounds, disturbing the learning environment and destroying school infrastructure. This is the only place we have and we must have it before it too is taken away to be used for some private business. This is not acceptable. Just imagine what good can come out of a multi- purpose center located here. It is going to be for the benefit of the whole country,’ ‘he said.