Kailahun town on Monday reenacted a scene from the eleven-year civil war, but this time people’s limbs were not hacked. The weapons were sticks and stones aimed at causing grave bodily harm.
What brought the anger and animosity was an old market stall standing close to the Clock Tower which stands in the middle of the township.
Five chiefdoms in Kailahun had completely embraced the peace and had surrendered all their weapons to the UNDP’s Arms For Development programme which is going all over the country, getting provincial communities to voluntarily hand over their weapons as the country awaits a Fire Arms Act which will regulate the use of all fire arms.
Eager to embrace peace the five communities: Kissi Tong, Lua, Upper Bambara, Nondu and Dea, willingly surrendered their weapons.
UNDP after the successful collection of arms in any district will dish out seed money to finance any development project, and Kailahun was one of the beneficiaries of Le100,000,000 (one Hundred million).
To decide what they should do with that money became the first note of discord in that town. Every body was dancing to different tunes.
The youth, according to Sidikie Brima a bike rider in Kailahun, wanted the money to fence their football field.
Gabriel Lahai working with an NGO there said, “Others were suggesting that they use the project money to build a guest house”.
The chairman for the Kailahun Town Council, Augustine Kortu, said they disagreed with the various suggestions and that they set up a project committee which recommended that “we build a market store instead of a guest house which could never be managed properly”.
The site of that store house was the big old market stall which is currently used as a community centre.
Last Monday, as the project committee came to un-roof the corrugated iron sheet from the stall in preparation for the project, hell let loose.
Kailahun was divided into two factions. A group identifying themselves as concerned citizens stormed the town centre with sticks and stones to stop the work.
The pandemonium lasted for over three hours and police had to intervene to quell down the situation.
The roof was finally brought down, however there were allegations that the feud between the Ngobehs also fueled the skirmishes.
It was alleged that Vonjo Ngobeh’s boys, ardent supporters of the People’s Movement for Democratic Change (PMDC), were the ones who stood stoutly against the un-roofing of the stall.
James Musa who said he was against the un-roofing of the stall said, “we are against it because we know that they want to sell the iron sheets to a Lebanese. Why do they want to strip the stall when we have not even seen a grain of sand for the new construction?”
The Council chairman, Augustine Kortu, said they wanted to start the project that was why they stripped off the stall.
He however stated that they had not advertised the tender bids for the store project. He blamed the whole palaver on the political divide now in Kailahun. “People are just bent on discrediting and disrupting the peace”, he fumed.
There will be a big meeting in Kailahun this Saturday to see how the community will solve this problem.