Good Morning Mr. President: Land problems, threat to Gambia’s peace

Jun 15, 2020, 11:35 AM

Mr. President, the land conflicts in the country are affecting most of the settlements in the urban area including some local settlements. 

This is becoming a major problem in The Gambia. In fact, it poses a threat to the peace and stability of the country.

Mr. President, if your government does not address the problems of land disputes in the country, it might jeopardise the peace and stability that we continue to enjoy as a nation.

One of the fundamental things your government needs to do with immediate effect is to regularise the Estate Agency. These estate agencies are on the increase in the country. It is a welcome development which provides job opportunities for many young people in the country; however, the way and manner in which some of them are acquiring lands in the country is a cause for concern and needs to be regulated.

Mr. President land grab has become a lucrative business venture in the country for many businessmen and women. Currently, a lot of Kabilolu most especially in Kombo are disputing over the issues of land, while others have problems with estate agencies and the government itself.

We can emphatically tell you that there’s no other issue in the country that needs urgent attention than the increasing land disputes. Almost every day you will either read it in the newspapers or hear it on air that some communities are complaining about their lands being sold.

Mr. President, it’s true that many land disputes in the country started some decades ago, while in fact, others were forcefully taken by the former regime of Jammeh. 

However, as a responsible government, it’s your duty to make sure that the problems are addressed once and for all so that our communities and kabilolu would continue to live in peace.

Mr. President if we can vividly recall, your government in 2018 set up a Land Commission with the objective of addressing land problems among others in the country. 

The question many Gambians are asking is, what is the commission doing in addressing this menace? Therefore, unless and until they stand up and go to the communities and talk to them with a view to addressing the menace might/it will continue to increase in the country.

What is so frightening about these land problems in the country is between kabilolu and communities. This has the potential of not only cutting ties between them but can also ignite problems which could result in serious fights.

Mr. President, it is obviously clear that most of the land problems in the country are caused by dishonest dealers, local authorities, and government officials, thus, it is high time your government addresses this land encroachment issue as a matter of urgency as there are a lot of land cases in court. 

The Ministers for Lands and Justice and their experts must hold meetings with alkalolu to avoid duplication of ownership of lands and avoid allocation in government reserves. A mechanism must be put in place to avoid land disputes. Both ministries should engage in a mass sensitisation to the general citizenry on how to acquire land in The Gambia. This sensitisation process should be conducted in English and all local languages for better understanding.

Finally, Mr. President, the other issues that your government needs to urgently look into is the prisons. It’s so embarrassing to learn that still now prison conditions have not been improved much according to the testimonies of some inmates who appeared at the TRRC.

We expect that after the change of the government in 2017, your government was not only going to reform the prison draconian laws but also improve its condition and the wellbeing of the inmates especially the food they eat and medical treatment among others. Prison should  be decongested for proper ventilation. Prisoners should also be encouraged to learn new skills while in prison and the food supply to prisoners should also be monitored.

Mr. President, the prison is supposed to be a correction center, not a punishment place for inmates. In 2017 the then Interior Minister Mai Ahmad Fatty visited the prison and vowed to institute broad reform of the prison system. One doesn’t just don’t know how far these are going on; but one thing is certain - the prison needs total revamp.

Good day!

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