Letter to editor

Rampant Land Grabbing in Koya

9 September 2010 at 04:42 | 790 views

By Alpha Rashid Jalloh, Freetown.

After years of marginalization and underdevelopment, Koya Rural District which is part of the Western Area, is on the verge of plunging into chaos as the residents have vowed to stoutly resist the current rampant land grabbing and seizure which is sometimes done in the name of government.

Abu Bangura inherited a large portion of land from his parents but was surprised when World Hope International, an NGO , produced documents that parliament had granted them his land for development after they had failed to pay the price he requested them to pay earlier.

Another woman called Mamie at Six Mile village was surprised when one day the MP for Koya Rural led a group of white men who went to survey her land. She demanded to know on what grounds only to be told that her land is “government land” even though all lands in Koya Rural District are Free Hold land. Even community land in the rural areas could only be acquired by lease, according to the laws of Sierra Leone. People are now surprised as to why the minister should be involved in confiscating private lands and claiming that they are government land when there is nothing like state land in Koya Rural District

Koya Rural District residents are poor and many are illiterate . There are not more than ten graduates who hail from that area. Many of those who hail from there are marginalized in public offices and in political circles , could not be employed in public offices and those who are employed are never given promotions. There had been a spread of hate over the years against those who hail from there because the area is believed to be infested with people who practice herbalism or "black magic".

This recent grabbing of land in the name of government has created panic among residents. They fear that sooner rather than later all lands in koya would be confiscated especially since they are illiterate and poor. Elites in the area have met and have decided to intervene through legal action and by other means to halt the land grabbing and confiscations.

They expressed the hope that president Ernest Bai Korma will halt the land confiscations as many of those who do it sometimes claim that they have his backing. “We know it’s a lie. How can government order confiscation of private land when they know it is illegal ? ” asks Abu Bangura.

World Hope International is reported to have produced document that Abu Bangura’s land was given to them by the lands minister Dr. Dennis Sandy (photo).

The people of Koya have been urged to use all their herbal knowledge to fight those who grab their lands and they too have vowed to put up resistance . From all indications trouble is looming in Koya Rural District . The sooner President Koroma investigates and make those who have embarked on the nefarious projects to accept that all lands in koya are private lands, the better.

The misunderstanding many have is that because it is called “Koya Rural” it is part of the provinces. The word “rural” was used in colonial days to refer to areas outside the colony of Freetown which were by then known as Sierra Leone, excluding the provincial areas which later became known as the protectorate.

Land grabbing was one of the contributing factors to the eleven-year war that ravaged Sierra Leone.