Minister Promises to Punish People Liable for Illegal Allocation of Land in Kamalo Industrial Layout

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By Yankuba Jallow

The Minister of Regional Government and Religious Affairs, Hamat N.K. Bah, has said the Government will act against the people found wanting in illegal allocation of lands in Kamalo Industrial Layout. Kamalo has two areas – one is the Kamalo Proper and the other is Kamalo Extension. 

“The question you asked me is the most difficult question [regarding whether] those found wanting will be dealt with by law and how they will be dealt with. Absolutely, they will be dealt with, but on how they will be dealt with, I cannot really specify that,” the Minister said.

The Minister said the decision has to be a collective decision with other stakeholders involved.

“They need to be dealt with. How? I don’t know, but they need to be dealt with to serve as deterrence for tomorrow. I can guarantee that something will be done, but how far and what measures and strategies, really, I cannot tell you that,” Minister Bah said.

The people found wanting in the Kamalo saga included the Minister of Lands, the Director of Lands and Survey, a staff working in the Department of Physical Planning and others. 

“I cannot tell you to what extent, but there will be action taken,” Bah said.

The Minister was questioned about the missing file containing the information about Kamalo Industrial Layout.

“That is missing. There are many documents missing there [in the Ministry],” the Minister said.

The Minister stated that his Ministry is developing a File Tracking System and it is at an advanced stage.

“Digitization is key and we are not going to compromise about that,” he said.

 He said by April 2025, they would have been done and the process would commence. 

Readers would recall that a taskforce was constituted by the Gambia Government to investigate the Kamalo Industrial Layout case after a public outcry over suspected irregularities.

The taskforce 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 allottees were Gambians, 4 Mauritanians, 1 Moroccan, 7 India and 1 Chinese. Hamat Bah said the Gambians included naturalised Gambians.

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

The taskforce 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 provided them relevant information. 

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

The taskforce noted that there was no application from the Department of Physical Planning nor an environment risk assessment done as required by law before allocation is 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 taskforce found out that ineligible allottees were allocated plots with no evidence of paying the Fifty Thousand Dalasi (D500,000) and no business plan was provided as required by law. The taskforce held that there was no justification for allocating one person/company more than one plots. The taskforce held that this cast doubt in the process of allocation. 

“The taskforce 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 was done. The taskforce discovered that some people submitted their personal bank statements instead of their company’s bank statements. 

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

One of the people found wanting by the taskforce is an employee of the Department of Physical Planning, whose name the Minister declined to mention and a company. The Minister said the official of the Physical Planning will be sent on administrative leave. 

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

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

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