By Omar Bah
The Jah Oil management has clarified that its disputed Banjul property was not allocated to them by the government.
Last week, Banjul Mayor Rohey Lowe expressed disappointment over the government’s decision to allocate lands including a graveyard to businessmen without consulting her office.
Reacting to the Banjul Mayor’s claims in a media briefing yesterday, the Jah Oil company manager Momodou Hydara told journalists that the land in question was bought from the owner of the defunct Radio Syd Corney Wadner.
“I want to make it emphatically clear that the property was legally purchased by Jah Oil Company on 9th July 2020 from Constance Wadner Enhorning. This transaction was never a government allocation but a sale between a private property owner to Jah Oil Company, a legally registered Gambian owned business entity,” he told journalists.
He said if BCC had listened to them, they would not have reached this far. “In fact, it will interest you to know that 95 percent of our lands were bought from private persons,” he said.
Responding to claims that the company is building in an old Banjul cemetery, Hydara said: “We were shocked and disappointed when we heard these rumors. In fact, the particular location cited by the Mayor is an ongoing construction of a police station which belongs to the Government of The Gambia.
“Jah Oil Company was approached by the Gambia Police Force to assist in the construction works to which they committed to providing the necessary construction materials and equipment only. Jah Oil Company was not involved in obtaining approvals and clearance for that particular location next to the petrol station (Radio Syd), this was the sole responsibility of the Gambia Police Force,” he said.
Teased on rumors that Jah Oil has a lot of monopoly over other companies since Barrow came to power, Mr Hydara contended: “During Yahya Jammeh’s time as we all know, a lot of businesses ran away and the few that remained kept a low profile and they did for a good reason.”
“The fear was that you invest all your wealth at the end of the day you are disposed of your business. Many Diasporans had to stay an the Diaspora but Jah Oil was an exception, though we were a bit cautious. So in 2017 when the New Gambia came, everybody came with the hope that now we have the right atmosphere to come out and invest,” he said.
Hydara said Jah Oil’s expansion can only be an added advantage to the country as the company is currently employing over one thousand Gambians.
“We also pay millions to the government on a monthly basis. That is not a bad thing. These are all positive things around the expansion so I don’t see why it should be a problem,” he said.
He said Gambians should support their own brothers and sisters because “if this frustration has to continue, investors will start putting their monies in a bag and deposit it in a bank or go to a third world country to invest there.”
Hydara said his company has attempted to meet the BCC Mayor but she refused to grant them audience.