By Bida Elly David
The authority of the city council has cautioned Islamic Council over ownership of public assets and urged them to distance themselves from collecting rent from any merchants in the market.
The land row between the two councils has been a devastating threat to the affected market vendors as the two entities were reportedly involved in separate collection of tariffs from business enterprises.
City council some months ago filed a court case against the Islamic Council that claimed number of shops under rent in the markets.
Speaking to No.1 Citizen Daily Newspaper over the weekend, Michael Lado Allah-Jabu, the Mayor of Juba City Council said the Islamic Council as an institution don’t bear any mandate to land or threaten traders without the notice of the government.
“Islamic Council is an institution which is not a government and they are claiming shops in the markets. Market is always public. Their problem is with the owners of the shops and we as the authority are there to support those whom we issued the documents. This is the only support but it does not mean that the place is totally ours” he said.
“It is by the virtue of the city authority or the local government that all the land belong to us be it the market or areas like this. Because sometimes we collect town rates in the areas and in the market we also have rates that we collect,’’ he lamented.
The city mayor said as a faith based institution, the Islamic Council would have used ethics as a positive method of approach rather than closing shops of individual traders creating strike and panics in the markets.
“So the Islamic council is claiming places nowadays. They claim every place and even an open place they claim it. This issue of the land has become a benefit to other people and institutions especially the Islamic council. When we talk to them, they said why you don’t talk to the Christians. We did not see Christians or any religious denomination claiming places in the market no completely,’’ Allah-Jabu lamented.
He further criticized Institutions that claim plots of land for the purpose of monopoly and promised to issue a local order banning institutions from market intervention.
“We as the government are not going to leave things like that. If the court says to the city council, the place is not ours, it is for the individuals that we allot them the plots and benefit to the people in order to engage the market there. We don’t want it to be taken by one institution for monopoly” he cited.
“If the court says no this is to happen this way, we have the authority. I will issue a local order that I don’t want any institution in the markets but what we do we compensate you outside. I will talk to the authorities in the County and the surrounding within for land then we take those people there,’’ he stated.
The city mayor underlined that faith based institutions were only mandated to request land for establishing places of worship rather than creating tensions among people.
“The Islamic council has been talking of a place for conducting prayers and if that is the case, we will provide them a place instead of claiming land in the market. We will provide them with the place for the benefit of prayers. No one is to compete with the government or claim things on the government” he stressed.
“There is nothing that a market is to be taken by one person. The activity they are doing in the market is a very big problem. If the people they are disturbing strike, they will close shops and will affect the survival of the people,’’ he added.
Meanwhile, No.1 Citizens efforts to reach the Islamic council for their comment and reaction on the land dispute were not immediately successful by press time as repeated trials to reach the Council’s leadership failed.