By: Kebba AF Touray
The Minister for Lands and Regional Government Sheriff Abba Sanyang, lamented that delay in conducting a study to zone Banjul was due to financial constraints. Minister Sanyang said this yesterday as part of his response to Banjul North Lawmaker Momodou Lamin Bah, during the question-and-answer session at the National Assembly.
Bah further asked the Minister to inform the Legislative body whether his Ministry is willing to collaborate with the Banjul City Council to put up mechanisms in order to avoid the massive construction of stores in residential zone of the city.
In his response, Minister Sanyang, said in the first quarter of 2021, the Department of Physical Planning and Housing in collaboration with the Banjul City Council (BCC), started a study with a view to zone Banjul into commercial, residential and mixed zones. The study he said is still ongoing but it has been delayed by financial constraints, but urged the BCC to be more collaborative than acting in isolation.
The Member for Wuli East Suwaibou Touray, asked the Minister to explain what his Ministry can do to expedite the process to ensure that proliferation of stores in residential areas is stopped.
In his response, Lands Minister Sanyang replied that this can be controlled but said he may not advise that it is going to be stopped; that stoppage can be a different language, as personalities in their individual homes coming to construct stores annexed to or within their compounds will be very difficult to control.
The Member for Tallinding Kunjang Musa Badgie, asked the Minister to furnish them on why the construction of a building belonging to one Mr Baboulie Touray at the riverside of Tallinding Kujang was not stopped, but allowed to continue to completion, despite the community’s complaints to the Physical Planning, National Environment Agency, Department of Wildlife and the National Disaster Management Agency.
Again in his response to the Member, Minister Sanyang asserted that the construction was stopped by the Department of Physical Planning and Housing sometime in 2020, and that at the time the matter was brought to their attention, construction was already at slab level.
“As stated by the Hon. Member, a stakeholder’ visit to the site indicated that it is within the wetland and therefore, not suitable for any form of construction. The department further sought and received legal advice from the Ministry of Justice that the structure should be demolished. Unfortunately, the Physical Planning Department and housing failed to execute the department’s mandate as well as the legal advice,” he added.
After being quizzed further on the issue, Sanyang replied that demolition is a complex situation that they find themselves in, because they realized that several other structures of the same type were found within the said jurisdiction. That there are different parties involved within the same community and society, while some are supporting the demolition on grounds that they have encroached into a wetland, others support the construction on grounds that a lot of people have been employed and this has brought numerous benefits for the community. Notwithstanding, he said they will go to their own house to be able to advise appropriately and decide what stand to take, stressing that demolition is a very simple thing in their own way of thinking. He however said that the nitigrities involved in the execution is also something that needs to be thought of and considered.
He told the assembly that they cannot go against demolition, because it is not a privilege but a right for the Ministry and physical planning to demolish without documentation.
On his part, the Member for Bakau Assan Touray, asked the Minister to explain why the said construction was not stopped when the instruction was given.
In his response, Minister Sanyang said “that is a very complex question, but will relate the action to human behavior and attitude. He further explained that it was an instruction given by the Department of Physical Planning and they have served a notice for the person to stop the construction. He disclosed that the said department failed to execute its mandate and the legal advice given to them as per the said construction, and promised the Member that he will look into the matter.