Friday, December 3, 2021

How Is Land Ownership Determined In Rural Settlements?


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The land tenure system in The Gambia requires careful review if we are going to avert confrontation between families. The Chief Justice should hold seminars with those who preside over District Tribunals on how to handle land cases. Foroyaa has witnessed many deliberations and decisions do not appear to be always uniform. This is due to the fact that precedents are not well established and conveyed to the adjudicators to enable them to be systematic in the dispensation of justice.

One principle that has been established is being a first settler on a land. This concept of first settler is often used in a loose manner because of the fact that other families do come to join the first settler family. When they do, the first settler family would ask the new comers to go to areas where there is thick bush so that they would clear the land and establish their own frontiers of settlement. This is why the second principle was established that a family that first clears a thick bush as a result of the permission of their host would become owners of the land cleared.

Population growth has now given rise to the habitation of many families on land that the original settlers ceded to new settlers. However as the original settlers experienced land shortage, they are tempted to make claims that the land cleared by the new settlers belongs to them. This is creating many conflicts which need proper handling if it is to be prevented from creating endless tensions in the community.

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