“Is the Tranquil Border issue resolved by Gambia and Senegal?” A Darsilami resident asks

By Mustapha Jallow
Mr. Tabun Bojang, the Secretary to the Alkalo of Darsilami, has told thisRoad under construction
reporter that they are desperate
and eager to know whether the Gambian and Senegalese authorities
have finally finished the demarcation of the Senegal-Gambia border with a view to establishing which country Tranquil belongs to.He said they were waiting for the outcome of a meeting involving the authorities of the two governments who promised to finalise the process of demarcation of the border in fourteen days. He was quick to point out that the deadline had elapsed, but they are yet to hear from the authorities of the two states. He
expressed his worry regarding the standoff between the troops of the
two countries which, he said, is a concern for the residents of both
Darsilami and Tranquil.

Mr. Bojang said they are not happy with the situation, adding “If it
is decided that Tranquil is in the Gambia, our plan is to use the area
presently occupied by the Gambian troops as a car park or market as we
have none of the two here”.

He concluded by calling on the two governments to urgently resolve the
issue amicably with a view to paving way for them to continue with their normal activities.

This reporter visited the area on Saturday upon receiving
information that the officials from the two governments were expected
at the border to once and for all resolve the problem, he could not see
any authority from either side.

He has observed that the Senegalese authorities have finished leveling
the road with laterite and are about to commence laying tar. They
have also started erecting electric poles along the stretch. The
vehicles have already started plying the road from other places in
Casamance to Darsilami.

Talking to Abdou Fall, one of the Senegalese soldiers stationed there,
he said they deployed the troops there to protect their territory. He said Tranquil and
Darsilami are part of Senegal but that they would not stop any Gambian
from entering into Senegalese territory, adding that he is urging the
two governments to resolve the issue amicably.

Ousman Jatta, a resident of Tranquil whose farmland was bulldozed by
the road construction workers, said goats roaming in the area have
destroyed all his cassava plants as the perimeter fence was destroyed.
He lamented that no one has come to see how his farm was destroyed or
to offer him any aid.

“I’m a family man and the survival of my family depends on farmland which
has been destroyed,” said the distraught farmer.

He said the people of the two villages are still confused and do not
know which side they belong to.

Another farmer, who is affected by the ongoing road construction work,
also explained how his fence was removed without any notification.
Mr. Louis Mendy said it was while he was away that all the sticks he
used as fence around his farm were removed to give way to the road
without any compensation.

It was earlier reported on 17 December 2015, that the villagers of
Darsilami and Tranquil have expressed concern over the stationing of
troops from Senegal at the disputed border village of Tranquil. It was
said the troops were moved from a place called Touba in the
Casamance region to Tranquil since 10 November, 2015.

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 completed 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 also stationed in the village of
Darsilami Tranquil.

It was also observed that the Senegalese authorities had started
putting up a structure at one part of Tranquil and that some military
personnel armed to the teeth and others in mufti were
seen.
When asked why they transferred from Touba to Tranquil, one of them in
mufti, who said his name is PapeNdiaye, told this reporter that their
authorities did not station them there because of the border issue but
to tackle the rebels of Casamance and for the security of their
territory. He suggested that the two states should dialogue and come
to a conclusion, adding that Gambia and Senegal are one family. He,
however, directed this reporter to their commander at Diouloulou.