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Physical planning, land agents discuss development strategies

Sep 20, 2011, 1:01 PM | Article By: Yusuf Ceesay

In accordance with the requirement for proper planning, the Gambia government’s physical planning department and local agents in the country, on Thursday 15th September 2011, gathered at the planning office to discuss issues affecting land use in the country.

Issues such as planning layout creations, roles and responsibilities of land agents, as well as the relationship between the department and agents, among others, were all discussed.

Speaking at the consultative forum, which brought together local agents from various parts of the country, Kunkung Colley, Director of Physical Planning, said that the meeting was the first of its kind in the country, but it is the time that calls for it.

“As a developing country like any other in the world, Gambia can never be an exception,” he said, adding, “we are all yawning for development; therefore, we must go through the same channels developed countries have gone through.

The Physical Planning Department, he said, comprises three units, and each has a function to do for the development of the country.

 However, Director Colley continued, the housing unit of the physical planning department has never been utilized fully, since its inception.

The planning unit deals with land in The Gambia, which is sub-divided into zones guided by policies and principles, and which were not much followed.

He further made it clear that not only the agents are failing to do as required by government, but government departments as well.

According to him, most complaints received are about the agents, and that most land problems are caused by the agents, making him think of advising government to stop this business of agency.

He revealed its institution ready to sensitized and dialogue with them in other to some where positive.

He finally asked the agents to go through the proper channels and follow the guidelines in acquiring land.

The housing officer, Abba Jammeh, told the gathering that the competition is very high, and that the land unit’s functions and standards must be in the regulations of this country.

“When contracted in accordance with the law there will be no problem with people buying land, and they will not be exploited,” he said, and called on the agencies not to leave out social needs such as access to schools, markets, among others, in providing shelter. 

 He advised the stakeholders, especially those dealing with land, to consider the low income and average Gambian, who cannot afford their land offers.

Amadou Batchilly, principal development officer, told agents that the duty of assignments and clearances are not only enough for documenting land.  He urged the agents not to buy land designated for agricultural purposes.

He further urged the agents to provide documents for land acquired to their clients to establish ownership, and to advice them as some of the European building plans do not suit us.

“Proper sectional drawings, electrifications, structural details are needed to approve application,” he announced.

Mr Batchilly appealed to those at the gathering to start campaigning for customers to come up with a hierarchy for buildings, adding that this will ease land problems in the country.

Dawda Darbo, Lands Officer called on the government to come up with a framework on how land should be acquired.

“There should be a centralized registration system, whereby any land to be transferred must go through that system,” he suggested.

He called on the planning institution to implement its mandate, and give the relevant Acts to agents to enable them advice their clients.