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GOV’T ANNOUNCES PLANS TO REGULATE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY

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By Omar Bah

The Minister of Lands and Local Government, Hamat Bah, has announced government’s measures to regulate real estate business in The Gambia.

The real estate industry is a key sector in the socio-economic development of the country, and the sector has been rapidly growing in the past decade with over 100 real estate companies operating in The Gambia as of 2020.

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However, it is not regulated by government which has led to consumers being vulnerable to various types of unfair, misleading and deceptive market practices by stakeholders in the transaction process.

In the first half of 2020, the Gambia Consumer Protection Commission received 13 complaints of consumers in the real estate industry worth D3,000,000, all of which are in relation to payments being finalised, but they are either unable to obtain their transfer documents or are not shown their properties.

The Gambia Consumer Protection Commission has since recommended for the Ministry of Lands to prioritize the creation of a database for land ownership to boost consumer confidence.

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Addressing the matter at a joint government press conference on Wednesday, Minister Bah said: “I had a meeting with the real estate agencies on Monday and I have given a directive for us to start regulating them effective immediately. I have given them two weeks to gazette their businesses so that we can deal with them according to law. We cannot let them continue scamming people in this country.”

He added: “You cannot rob people of all their life savings and then go scot-free. That would not happen in this country again. We will come up with laws to protect consumers in this country. Can you believe it 80 percent of cases in our courts are land issues and the legal fraternity are the biggest grabbers of land in this country? They are good at insulting the government but when people are robbed off their properties, they never say anything about it. This country belongs to all of us and we should endeavour to protect it. I am sure they will very soon start sending petitions to the National Assembly against us but nothing is going to stop us.”

Minister Bah said Gambians should remember the country belongs to them. “Presidents Jawara and Jammeh have served and left and President Adama Barrow will also leave and leave The Gambia behind. We should put our differences aside and support in building this country for our children and grandchildren,” he said.

He said there is no going back on the government’s land management policy.

Land allegedly allocated to Barrow

Commenting on UDP leader Ousainu Darboe’s call on President Barrow to clear the air about an alleged allocation of government land at South Atlantic Road, Minister Bah said: “I am going to give a very appropriate response to my brother Ousainu Darboe on that. I am working on the statistics and details to give a special press conference to respond to him as the minister responsible for lands. That will come very soon. Very soon and I will make sure that The Standard Newspaper will be invited. I don’t speak on hearsay or untested generalisation. I speak on facts and I would put the facts before the Gambian people,” he said.

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