#Editorial

Stop land grab!

May 28, 2020, 12:31 PM

Land conflicts are becoming a major problem in The Gambia. With even a small plot of land in the Kombos and other urban centres commanding exorbitant prices, land grab has become a lucrative business venture.

And this business would not have flourished without the collusion of some unscrupulous dealers and government officials. It is high time government address this land encroachment issue as a matter of urgency.

It is in the news that the people of Sukuta in the West Coast Region have warned that they will do anything possible and at any cost to protect their lands from perpetrators, encroachers. Few years, similar incident turns deadly in Faraba Bantang in Kombo East. With that in mind plus other communities that had similar encounters with law enforcement officers, government should treat land issues as a matter of national concern.

Disputes over lands could be minimised if it is channeled through the right procedures. Community heads or alkalolu should also desist from acts that would jeopardise their integrity. They have a huge role to play when it comes to strengthening and cementing unity and cooperation in communities.

If the words of the community members are anything to go by, the recent encroachment of part of their land by the Department of Physical Planning is unfair. Earlier on, the community alleged that they have not seen any community development in the area and instead private individual are buying parts of the land from encroachers to put up their houses. This is not fair at all.

The seizures of community lands on the pretext of being a government reserve only to be used for selfish and individual interests should stop immediately.

The Department should always remember that in any community in The GAMBIA has its own history. Land issues, particularly its ownership in the Kombos, are often central to understanding the dynamics to avoid conflicts. In The Gambia some of the land problems are hereditary.

There are reports that there are some families that are still renting especially those, whose land have been taken away. And seeing the lands they inherited from their fore fathers are being sold at exorbitant prices could only be a recipe for conflicts.

If the state wants land there are procedures to follow. And if such procedures are followed would safe us all from trivial conflicts over land.

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