Government Revokes All Land Allocations in Kamalo Industrial Area

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By Yankuba Jallow

The Minister of Lands, Hamat N.K. Bah, has disclosed that his Ministry has accepted 100% of all the recommendations of the task force that investigated the land allocations at the Kamalo industrial lane.

“There will be 100% implementation of the recommendations. The report cannot be kept under the carpet. There is no turning back. Nobody can change it. It is in the supreme interest of the Gambia,” Minister Bah said.

He explained that the task force was constituted to review the land allocated to people and businesses in the Kamalo strip after the public outcry about the process of allocation. The task force was to review the process of allocation and come up with a comprehensive report regarding their findings. The task force was also asked to review the relevant laws and policies governing the allocation of such lands. The members of the task force were the Ministry of Lands, Ministry of Trade, Ministry of Justice, National Audit Office, Gambia Police Force, Gambia Investment and Export Promotion Agency (GIEPA), National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and the National Physical Planning Board. 

The task force interviewed the people and businesses allocated land in the Kamalo Industrial Area. Kamalo has two areas – one is the Kamalo Proper and the other is the Kamalo Extension within the same area.

The task force found out that 40 plots were allocated inside Kamalo Proper and 28 in Kamalo Extension, which brings the total to 68 plots allocated. 47 of the people allocated were Gambians, 4 Mauritanians, 1 Moroccan, 7 Indian, and 1 Chinese. Hamat Bah said the Gambians included naturalised Gambians.

“Some were allocated more than 1 plot,” Minister Bah said.

The task force found out that there was no policy direction to guide the process of allocation and the Kamalo Master Plan was missing.

“The file of Kamalo disappeared and we still cannot see it. We have looked for it everywhere, but we still cannot see it,” Bah said.

The Minister said the file would have given them an inside on the matter of Kamalo and provided them with relevant information.

The Minister said the allocation of land to businesses and people without following due process would have serious ramifications on the wetland and the living beings in the area. He said pollution is likely to affect the aquatic life.

 The task force noted that there were no applications to the Department of Physical Planning and there were no environmental risk assessments done as required by law before allocation was made. The fact-finders discovered that there was no ministerial approval as required by law and the applications did not follow due process. Minister Bah said 28 of the allocated plots were without evidence of ministerial approval in their files. He added that 6 were given ministerial approval.

The task force found out that ineligible allottees were allocated plots with no evidence of paying the Fifty Thousand Dalasi (D500,000) and no business plan as required by law. The task force held that there was no justification for allocating one person/company more than one plot. The task force held that this cast doubt on the process of allocation.

“The task force discovered a lot of anomalies,” Hamat Bah said.

The irregularities were: ministerial approval without following due process as required by section 14 of the State Land Act, lack of ministerial approval, unpresented applications, missing files, ineligible applicants, no business plans, and no environmental risk assessment done.  The task force discovered that some people submitted their bank statements instead of their company’s bank statements.

The task force recommended the revocation of lands allocated and further recommended that the Gambia Government should develop a National Land Policy. The Ministry of Lands was asked to ensure that they have a proper filing system. The task force said the Ministry should ensure that the missing Kamalo file is found. The task force recommended the proper scrutiny of all applications and further recommended that no one should be allocated more than one plot. The task force recommended that the Government should ensure that there are clear policies and guidelines on the process of application and allocation.

One of the people found wanting by the task force is an employee of the Department of Physical Planning, who the Minister declined to mention, and another company. The Minister said the officials of the Physical Planning will be sent on administrative leave. 

After reading the report, the Minister vowed that he would constitute a committee to implement the recommendations and he would be part of it to ensure the full implementation.

“The entire allocations will be canceled – it will be nullified,” Hamat Bah said.