BY KEBBA MAMBURAY
Yesterday on 8 August 2018, Pa Touray Sanyang, a resident of Faraba Banta told the Faraba Commission that that he was threatened. He said that on the day following the event of 18 June someone called him and told him “we have burnt some people’s houses but next time it is your turn, we are coming to burn down and destroy your house.”
THE VILLAGE MEETING
Testifying before the Commission, Pa Touray Sanyang said Julakay doesn’t know him personally but there was a day when he was called by the chairperson and was informed to go to the village Bantaba to attend a meeting; that when Julakay arrived with his team, he told them that he had a licence to mine sand in Faraba but he (Julakay) was told to come and meet the villagers first. He said Julakay brought D15,000.00 and 3 kilos of cola nuts and the VDC accepted the Idea of Julakay and welcomed him.
Later, out of the D15,000.00 that was given, D10,000.00 was given to Alagie Sanyang for the development of the village mosque and the remaining D5,000,00 was distributed between the attendees of that meeting but he said the money was not changed into coins it was shared in notes.
THE 18 JUNE INCIDENT
Pa further said after the incident of 18 June, 2018 he received a call from Julakay who told him that he heard his place was burnt down and Julakay further expressed his sympathy. Pa added that he came to know Julakay when he was in need of a mason to build his office beside the mining site and then some villagers identified him to Julakay.
Pa said on the 18th of June 2018 he was in Faraba in his house and around 6am he heard sound of firing of tear gas and then saw a lot of smoke coming from the mango plantation but that he sat still in his house. Pa further added that he was in fear that’s why he couldn’t go out; adding that he knows nothing about the incident.
The following day, after the incident he said someone called him and told him that, “we have burnt some people’s house but next time is your turn, we are coming to burn down and destroy your house”. He said in response, he told the person to come and burn his house because he is innocent; but he added that after receiving the threat, he did not report the case to the police.
ABOUT HIS ROLE IN THE VDC
In his testimony, he narrated that he is a member of VDC of Faraba Banta since November 2015. He added that he lives in Faraba Banta currently without his family because his house was burnt down. Pa said he was the one responsible for the sand mining site because the VDC assigned him to be in charge of the revenue collection from the truck drivers that transport sand.
He added that, he succeeded one Tombong Colley who was responsible for collecting the fees from drivers that transport sand. He narrated that Tombong asked him (Pa) to take over because he is a soldier and is very busy lately; adding that, later he quit working for the VDC because the issue of Julakay was becoming tense.
But he also added that, before the coming of Julakay, the villagers were mining from the site and other neighbouring villages. Pa said at the beginning, any truck loaded with sand paid D300 flat but after the stoppage of the Pirang mining site, they increased the fee to D500 for outsiders and D300 for the people of Faraba Banta which gave daily takings of roughly D2,000.00 from the site.
He testified that out of all his service for the VDC, he was never paid and he had an agreement with the VDC that he would be paid D3,000.00 per month. He further told the Commission that, the VDC issues no receipt to the truck drivers after collecting revenues from them. But he added that he hands over the money to Tombong Colley daily after work. He further explained that there is no accountability in the transaction because there were no issuances of receipts to the truck drivers.
He said the VDC told him that the money collected from the site, will be used to buy cash power for power supply of the borehole; adding that the treasurers in the persons of Tombong and Ismaila never reported to the villagers about how the money is spent but he attested that there’s always water supply. He further narrated that, weekly they buy D2,000.00 cash power which is amounted to D8,000.00 monthly.
He said that he only knows of the buying of cash power by the VDC from the money collected and nothing other than that. He further told the Commission that 30,225.00 was spent on renovating the village youth centre. He also said that after the money earned from the collection of fees was given to the treasurers, it would be given to the VDC Chairperson for deposit. He further explained they conducted a series of meetings in the village but they were not told how much the committee got or how the money is spent but he said he never asked the VDC how much is gained from the sand mining revenue collection.
Pa further added that there is democracy in the VDC but the money issue is exempted. He further testified that the VDC has a Vice Chairperson by the name Fatou Barjo but she never attended meetings, only Alagie does.