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Minister of Lands Exposes Unauthorized Allocation of 68 Plots Of Land In Kamalo

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Hamat NK Bah, Minister of Lands, Regional Governments And Religious Affairs

By Ramatoulie Jawo 

During a joint press conference at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center in Bijilo, Hon. Hamat NK. Bah, Minister of Lands, Regional Government, and Religious Affairs, revealed that 68 land plots were unlawfully distributed in the Kamalo Area.

The Minister disclosed that in the third quarter of 2023, a multi-sectoral task force was established to scrutinize the allocation of demarcated land plots in the Kamalo industry layout due to public concerns about irregular allocations. This task force was mandated to conduct a comprehensive review of the allocation processes, which involved examining relevant laws, policies, and regulations governing land administration and management in The Gambia.

“In the third quarter of 2023, a multi-sectoral task force was formed to review the allocation of demarcated plots of land at the Kamalo industry layout. The task force was to conduct a comprehensive review exercise to examine the allocation processes. This process was triggered by the public outcry that multiple, and inappropriate, allocations were made. This led to the creation of multiple stakeholder reviews,” Hon. Bah stated.  

Hon. Bah said that during the review, the Taskforce discovered discrepancies in the allocation process, including the absence of documentary evidence from physical planning regarding the availability of land at Kamalo for an Industrial Layout. Despite this lack of evidence, the proposal was endorsed and approved by the planning authority.

The Taskforce observed that 40 plots were demarcated in the Kamalo proper, and 28 plots in the Kamalo Extension, totaling 68 plots. 

“The Taskforce conducted a series of interviews with allottees and made several visits to the demarcated Kamalo industry layout for proper verification during the review, the Taskforce was made aware of the existence of a development plan alongside a sketch plan to be emanated from the development plan detailing the layout design. The sketch plan was made of two faces, Kamalo Industrial layout proper, and Kamalo Industrial layout extension.  

“It was revealed that the growing demand for industrial Land had led to the Director of Physical Planning to inform the Hon. Minister of the availability of land at Kamalo suitable for an Industrial Layout. However, there was no documentary evidence provided by physical planning. Nonetheless, the proposal was endorsed and a planning authority meeting of the Banjul and Kombo Saint Mary’s Planning Authority. Based on the sketch plan that was derived from the development plan, the Task Force noted that 40 plots were demarcated in the Kamalo proper, and 28 plots in the Kamalo Extension, equaling to a total of 68 plots in both the proper and the extension,” Hon. Bah highlighted.

He mentioned that the plots in Kamalo Industrial Layout were allocated to 47 Gambians, 4 Mauritanians, 1 Moroccan, 7 Indians, and 1 Chinese. Hon. Bah clarified that there are 68 demarcated plots, and some beneficiaries have been granted more than one plot, with 47 of them being Gambians, including naturalized citizens.

“The Task Force noticed that the lack of a National Land Policy has led to the lack of clarity of the mandates of various stakeholders in the land administration process. But also indicates a lack of direction in the sector. The Task Force had limitations during the review as the master Kamalo file was missing, and several attempts were made to retrieve the file but unsuccessful. The file contains information and correspondences between the Ministry and relevant stakeholders leading to the establishment of Kamalo as an industrial layout,” Hon. Bah disclosed. 

Minister Bah highlighted that during the assessment, it came to attention that some individuals assigned plots in Kamalo Proper lacked evidence of a valid business registration certificate. Additionally, there was no proof of payment of the required application fee of D50,000, which is contrary to the stipulations of the Act.

Furthermore, Minister Bah pointed out instances where certain companies were allocated more than one plot without clear justifications provided for such allocations. For instance, some applicants intending to establish warehouses were granted two plots, whereas those intending for production purposes were allocated only one plot. This raises concerns regarding the transparency and consistency in the criteria utilized for these allotments.

“It was noted that more than one plot was allocated to certain companies. However, the justifications for allocating more than one plot were not provided for review. For example, there was an instance where applicants whose purpose for applying was for a warehouse were given 2 plots. While those who plan to do production were given only one plot, casting doubt about the criteria used to determine these allocations,” Hon. Bah said. 

Hon. Bah emphasized the need for certain actions in response to the task force’s recommendations. He urged the Ministry to establish a comprehensive filing system and emphasized the importance of locating the Kamalo file. He also suggested a reevaluation of the decision to designate Kamalo as an industrial area due to potential environmental risks associated with heavy industrial development projected by investors. Furthermore, he supported the task force’s recommendation to revoke all allocations at Kamalo Extension due to procedural irregularities in the allocation process and the absence of any development on the site.

“The Ministry should endeavour to have a proper filing system in place and effort should be made to ensure that the Kamalo file is produced. The decision to make Kamalo an industrial layout should be reconsidered as it could pose serious adverse environmental challenges as most of the investors have projected to build heavy industries on the site. 

“The Task Force recommends that the entire allocations at Kamalo Extension be revoked simply because all the 28 allocations did not follow due process. In addition, there is no development on the site,” he said.

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