By Tabora Bojang
The disputed land housing the former offices of the police anti-crime unit in Bijilo is part of an area earmarked for the construction of a five-star hotel as part of preparations for the 2022 OIC summit in The Gambia, The Standard has learnt.
The hotel is part of a $100 million concession deal awarded to Senegalese investment company Immoland Sarl which agrees to finance, build and operate it.
According to a statement from the OIC secretariat in Banjul, Abdouaye Thiam, the chairman of Immoland Sarl, the contractors of the project, has led a 17-man delegation to The Gambia comprising technical experts from India and South Africa to begin ground preparations for the commencement of the hotel construction. The team will be accompanied by the OIC secretariat and other stakeholders for an assessment tour of the proposed site today before work begins.
The OIC secretariat said “providing a luxurious accommodation experience to the guests during the global convergence is one of the main priorities of the Secretariat and the government.
“Similarly, such an edifice will reinforce the preeminent position of our country as a ‘go-to’ tourist destination as well as a hub for international meetings, incentive travels, conferences, and exhibitions.”
However, the same land is at the center of a dispute between the police and officials of the Global Homes of Medical Mission, who were previous occupants of the property before it was taken over by ex-president Jammeh in 2010.
The mission won a judgment and a writ of possession as owners of the premises but police continue to guard the place blocking access to the Mission officials despite the relocation of the anti-crime unit to Yundum. Last week, the Mission’s country director Nenneh Freda Gomez, who went to the site to implement the court order, was arrested and charged with criminal trespass.
The Ministry of Justice however said the matter is the subject of ongoing litigation in two suits before two separate judges of the High Court and urged claimants to exercise restraint and follow due process.
When contacted on these concerns, a staff of the OIC secretariat, told The Standard: “As far as we are concerned, there is no controversy regarding this land. It is not contentious. We have all the papers to back it up and everything. Look, the anti-crime left these premises purposely for the OIC project.”