By: Kebba AF Touray
Permanent Secretary Buba Sanyang on Monday in Banjul briefed Parliamentarians on how his Ministry settled some of the land disputes in the West Coast Region.
Buba Sanyang, Permanent Secretary 1, at the Land Ministry, dilating on Salaji Land Dispute, informed the committee that Salajai is a government set out layout and the arrangement at the time, was to compensate the land owners in the area in kind(giving part of the land to them) within the layout.
He said the last demolition exercise conducted by the Ministry, was as a result of government’s inaccessibility to the ‘Educational Facility’ within the layout, for a contractor, who has been for one year awarded and given advance payment by the government to start construction works at the primary school therein.
He said that the Ministry felt that there was need to provide access to the contractor to facilitate the construction work of building the school, adding that some youth were trying to block the construction process of that land allocation. He said the youth in turn wanted to reallocate the said land to other people, some of whom also decided to start developing on those lands.
He said: “The Ministry embarked on the demolition to enable the contractor to start the construction of the school, as well as to clear some of the public spaces for some people who have been allocated land by the government within the layout”.
On Yundum land matter, he explained the area was owned by one Mr. Jagne an erstwhile commissioner of the West Coast Region, who acquired the land from the local people, but after the change of government in 1994, the commission at the time felt that they abused their office and that land was forfeited from them and given back to the state at the time.
He added: “the state at the time, handed over the land to AMRC and AMRC in return put this particular land on an open tender and one Mr. Gaye, who was the highest bidder at the time, bought the land from AMRC, with all the transfer papers were done in his name. AMRC along the road got interested in the land because it appreciated value, on grounds that Mr. Gaye is selling the land without the change of use”.
He said a taskforce was set up, to investigate into the matter, which recommended inter alia that the said property can be confiscated and the decision at the time was that the land was taken from Mr. Gaye.
He said after the change of government in 2016, Mr. Gaye challenged the decision of the task force in the court and the court set aside the report of the taskforce and referred the land back to Mr. Gaye, and the Ministry engaged Mr. Gaye that he (Gaye) has a title over the land, but was then agricultural.
He said AMRC sold part of this land to Mr. Gaye and as a Ministry, they engaged Mr. Gaye by allowing him to go through the change of use process and based on that Mr. Gaye forfeited 40 percent of the land and that was done and Mr. Gaye got his 60 percent.
He said: “but in order to bailout AMRC, the state returned back another 20 percent to Mr. Gaye to drop the charges against AMRC, for having sold about 20 percent of his land. So the state gave him 20 percent back from the 40 percent, and Mr. Gaye consented to this and was given clearance to work on his part of the land and the government set up a mini layout on its remaining 20 percent and this is where some National Assembly and some Gambians are allocated in Old Yundum”.
He said: “the state does not enter into this matter to take the land from the rightful owners, but to return the land to its rightful owner”.
He said the Bufut Land dispute, was caused by the allocation of a portion of a plot of land to the CSC Company, to use as warehouse and that during the Janneh Commission, the families of Bojang Kunda and Sanneh Kunda wrote to the commission, each claiming ownership of the land, but the commission wrote to them that such matter was not in its mandate.
He said “Then they wrote to the Ministry which invited the Alkalo and representatives of the two families of the villages and during the engagement, it was proven to them that the said area belongs to the Bojang family and the state did not hesitate to return the land to the Bojang Kunda Family”.
Earlier the Chairperson of the Committee, Musa Amul Nyass, explained that the interface aims to bring the committee and its line Ministry and Land Commission to discuss and provide update to the committee on the issue of land disputes in the country.
Sitting continues tomorrow with the Area Councils at the National Assembly in Banjul