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Is the Ministry of Lands taking note?

Apr 8, 2013, 9:45 AM

It was not long ago when we stated in these pages that the number of issues pertaining to land in The Gambia is growing day by day.

We have poor coordination, false possession, and people charging high prices for what do not belong to them, to name but a few problems.

One thing that must be understood is that the physical land of The Gambia is for all of us, but possession of land has been beset with problems in recent times.

The next question that must be asked is - who to blame?

Do we lay the blame at the doors of alkalos, surveyors, or the relevant government institutions such as the Department of Physical Planning and the Department of Lands and Surveys?

Whoever is to blame for the problems related to land, the reality is that genuine people who wish to invest their hard-earned money in a piece of property, are increasingly afraid to risk getting involved in land disputes.

It is hard to blame them. If you have worked hard and saved money diligently, the last thing you want is for that money to be lost in a dubious land deal.

Unfortunately, the issue of land is becoming a problem in many parts of Africa, so we in The Gambia are not alone in our plight.

This said, we should waste no time in addressing the problem. Land in The Gambia now is a burning issue, and people need help, as they are suffering.

We hear of demolitions with time ebbing away in the run up to the rains. What are people to do? If they receive a small compensation, they cannot afford to buy a new house. If they have to build from scratch, they will find themselves and their families without a roof over their heads when the rainy season strikes. We cannot allow this to happen to any of our people.

The Government should make laws and introduce regulations that would ensure this kind of thing does not happen. If there is proper legislation introduced which covers every possible eventuality, it will ensure that no loophole exists to be exploited by anybody.

Along with this action, victims of demolitions must be compensated fully and relocated. Time is running out and the situation is worsening. If swift action is not taken, this terrible trend will worsen before it gets better.

Also prospective investors in land need to remind themselves of the importance of obtaining reliable confirmation and transfer documents from alkalos, and proper advice and guidance from lawyers.

“Men sooner forget the death of their fathers than the loss of their possessions.”