President, it is time to put an end to the row on land disputes and put good
mechanism to avoid them. There are many cases involving land at the courts.
Mr. President, members of the lands commission should be given the opportunity to solve these land problems forever.
The Ministries of Lands and Justice, GTB, Local authorities in West Coast Region, existing tenants and the Chiefs/ Alkalolu of land dispute areas should come together and discuss the issue to determine what is right and equitable in the interest of all.
To avoid taking decisions and actions that would create problems, it would be important for all the stakeholders to be involved.
Mr. President, it may be even necessary to set up an inquiry to determine what is equitable once and for all. The policy that designates TDAs, specifies that 800 meters from the coast line is designated as the reserved land for the TDA. But the questions to ask here are:
1. Has the policy specified from what point to what point along the coast?
2. Has the Tourism authority obtained a master lease for the designated areas?
3. Where customary land is involved at the time of the policy, what was the compensation?
4. Is there a communication breakdown between the GT Board, the Ministry of Lands and the local Government authorities because it is alleged that some people have obtained lease for properties that are alleged to be in the TDA land.
5. What about the “State Land Policy”?
Mr. President, Government should clearly demarcate what is designated to TDA and reserved lands for other purposes. After doing so, it will be necessary to issue a white paper and to issue a lease to the relevant agencies in whose name the reserved land is made; for example -TDA Land should be leased to GT Board.
Reserved lands for schools should be leased to Ministry of Education etc. In this regard, the need for proper planning cannot be over-emphasized.
Mr. President, Land is one of the pillars of identity, therefore it is a sensitive issue and Government must handle it carefully and equitably.
In 2002, when an area of land was reserved near the airport and at Kuloro for investment purposes, The Gambia Investment Promotion and Free Zone Agency (GIPZA) obtained a lease for the properties. And later when some people in Kuloro claimed that the land was theirs’, they had no grounds because GIPZA had a leased titled of the said land.
Finally, Mr. President, it is important for GT Board to obtain lease for their lands within the TDA to avoid future problems.