BORDER VILLAGERS STILL FEEL INSECURE When will the authorities fulfil their pledge to demarcate the border?

By Mustapha Jallow

On Thursday, 17 December 2015, Villagers from Darsilami and Tranquil expressed concern over the stationing of troops from The fence of Ousman JattaSenegal at the disputed border village of Tranquil. Reports have it that the troops have moved there from Touba since 10 November, 2015.

There has been a long standing dispute as to which part of the border Tranquil falls.

On Wednesday, 7th October 2015, Gambian and Senegalese authorities together with the Senegalo-Gambian Joint Border Commission met at Tranquil, in a bid to finding a lasting solution to the ongoing dispute over which side of the two borders the village is located. It was announced at the meeting that the process of demarcating the border by the joint border commission would be complete within two weeks. But villagers told this reporter that since the meeting of 7 October, 2015 (over two months) the technical team has not returned to the village.

Meanwhile armed Gambian troops are stationed in the village of Darsilami, about a kilometre away from Tranquil.

Tranquil villagers told this reporter that their crops in their farms were crushed by Senegalese troops. One Ousman Jatta, whose compound was affected, said he was shocked when the Senegalese authorities came in the morning and started clearing their crops without notice. He said they have cleared his farm which he relied on to feed his goats, cattle and sheep. He stressed that the survival of his family depends on his farm. He expressed concern that there is yet to be a report on the status of Tranquil which can lead to tension between the two countries.

This reporter also observed that the Senegalese authorities had started putting up a structure at one part of Tranquil on Wednesday morning. Some military personnel were seen to be heavily armed while others in mufti were seated. When asked why they transferred from Touba to Tranquil, one of them Pap Njie, in mufti, told this reporter that their authorities did not station them there because of the border issue but to handle the rebels of Casamance and for the security of their territory. He suggested that the two states should dialogue and come up with a conclusion; adding that Gambia and Senegal are one family. Upon further questions on the border issue he directed this reporter to their commander at Diouloulou.

Tabun Bojang, a son and the secretary to Alkalo of Darsilami, expressed his disapproval of the ongoing construction by the Senegalese authorities on the said border. He said the demarcation is yet to be done and nothing has been finalized yet. He added that they were told at the 7 October meeting that they should go and sit and stay calm until the demarcation is complete, which he said they did, but to their surprise they saw the arrival of bulldozers without notice.

He further said that they have brought the development to the notice of the district chief and the regional governor. They called on the two authorities to come and end this border issue.

When the Deputy Ambassador at the Senegalo-Gambia Secretariat was informed about the development on Friday 18 December, he said he was not yet aware of it. Foroyaa will continue to monitor developments.