By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister for Lands and Regional Government, Sheriff Aba Sanyang, on Monday 6th February 2023, told members of the Lands and Regional Government Committee that the Gambia lacks a land management policy. The Lands Minister said this during his appearance before the above mentioned committee to provide them with updates on the issues of land in the country.
“The Gambia lacks a land management policy, a land management system and land management in general, over the period. We are trying to look at one of the most salient component of land management which will improve the digitization and registration of land for proper management,” he said. He said they are looking forward to this and expressed the hope that before the end of the year 2023, proper land management laws will come into existence to assist the country in its land management endeavours.
“Land is the most disputed matter in this country. The backlog of land cases is enormous at the courts, though we have started and have so far addressed a lot of them. I can assure you that a lot of land issues have now been addressed in one way or the other, and I can take it to be Ministry’s achievement, though we are always at loggerheads with land owners,” he told the members. Minister Sanyang disclosed to Members that the most talked about activity of the Ministry is demolition, which he said is inevitable as a matter of fact because as the demand for land gets high among those scrambling for it, the land areas become smaller and that many people tend to settle in unsettled environments.
“People will settle in high risk and dangerous settlements. Let us take a clerical example of the Kotu Quarry. We all agree that the place is a very dangerous zone with floods almost every year and unhealthy for residential and every other purpose,” he said. But said government came out and gave the people of Kotu Quarry funds and land for them to move, and the people decided to sell the land allocated to them, only to return to the place to stay. He said government did that for the sake of the same people who reside there. He said the same applies to almost every part of the country, and gave a particular reference to the Jabang Estate scenario, where he reminded the committee that flood waters got into houses.
“We went there and everybody saw on TV that some of the houses in the area, blocked the flow of water. When government decided to demolish those houses for flood water to pass freely, this becomes illegal,” he said. He told the committee that if government reserves land for garages, cemeteries, schools, markets and police stations, it is the people who come and build on those lands with the view that their properties cannot be demolished. He asserted to members of the committee that no country can grow and develop in such a situation. He stated that no one can demolish just for the sake of demolition, adding that demolition is done for a purpose be it violation of the right of other people, or the violation of the Land Act or the violation of natural tendencies that are occurring in the midst of people. He told Members that his Ministry cannot shy away from such responsibilities which has to be carried out either by his ministry or someone with the responsibility to do so.