Weeks ago, Sukuta youth clashed with riot police after Department of Physical Planning (DPP) started demolishing dozens of homes which the department said were on state reserved lands.
However, the people of Sukuta claimed the land belongs to the community as they accused the government of visiting injustice on the community over land ownership.
Speaking to journalists in a press confab on Tuesday held in Banjul, Buba Sanyang, permanent secretary (1) at the Ministry of Lands said “the demolition was done based on legal ground.”
He cited section 22 sub-section 1 (a) of the 1997 constitution as saying “no property of any description shall be taken possession of compulsorily, and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of The Gambia.”
Acquisition of state properties, he added, can only be possible on certain conditions saying “the taking of possession or acquisition is necessary in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, public health, town and country planning, or the development or utilization of any property in such manner as to promote the public benefit;”
Speaking further, PS Sanyang said in accordance with section 5 of the State Lands Act 1991. “The districts of Kombo North, South and Central were designated as State lands with effect from 1st day of March, 1994.”
He recalled that in 2007, the DPP had addressed a letter to the Sukuta leadership informing them that the Lands Ministry had instructed it (DPP) to prepare a residential layout in Sukuta village (between Old Salagi and Patehya), adding that “the department advised the village head to avoid making any lands transaction in the designated area in order to avert future conflict.”
The expert on Lands and Regional Governments said the families that were affected in Salagi extension such as the Brufut Bojang Kunda, Jamba Kunda, Bully Kunda, Tamba Kunda, Mambuna Kunda, Kenebering kunda and Mannya kunda were compensated with plots of lands at Brusubi as indicated in the Local Government Act.
He further explained that there was a challenge in compensating the Kebba family with land, adding later on the family addressed a letter to the ministry requesting the land compensation.
PS Sanyang noted that the ministry replied to the Kebba family that: “We acknowledged that the ministry indicated in writing that the Kebba Kunda family will be compensated in accordance with land acquisition and compensation 1991. As a result, we kindly urged your client to exercise a bit of patience while we try to sort out their compensation.”
He therefore, called on all and sundry to obey the law in order to help in maintaining peace and stability in the country.