By Momodou Jawo
Members of the National Assembly Select Committee on Regional Government and Lands, IEC and Ombudsman have expressed the need for a legislation that will control the growing estate agencies in the country.
“Estate agencies have taken lots of our reserved land that could be used for agricultural production,” deputy speaker Momodou Lamin Sanneh said.
Sanneh added that politics and planning should not be put together. “The road congestion between Banjul, Tabokoto and Serekunda is a cause for concern. I think the government needs to close its eyes in the interest of the general public and do something about the by-pass from Abuko to Westfield,” he stated.
Another member of the committee Hon. Musa Amul Nyassi dwelled on the significance of the oversight tour, adding that it is one of their responsibilities to visit institutions under their purview.
“The welfare of this department is our concern and so we are here to see some of the achievements, challenges and constraints as well as the gaps so that together we can consolidate gains and come up with recommendation for the betterment of The Gambia,” he noted.
The Director of Physical Planning Musa Badjie agreed that there is need to legislate the activities of estate agencies in the country. The process involved in leasing, he noted, is too much, thus they are working towards digitalizing it. He added that they are also embarking on land banking in Jambur, Jalamba among other settlements.
Responding to a specific question raised by the touring NAMs on whether permission can be given to two people in the same plot of land, Badjie described any such incident as unfortunate. “On normally circumstance it should not have happened, thus we are going to look in to the issue and act immediately,” he promised.
He said some planning authorities fail to function because they have not been paid. “We are working with councils in ensuring that they start to give them something before the central government takes over. We are coming out with a policy guideline that will ensure that they work effectively,” he remarked.
The director added that there is a lot of encroachment in their reserved lands.
“The department takes responsibility for that because there was no visibility and stakeholders were not sensitized on the existing of the reserved lands, and also the lack of demarcation contributes,” he added.
Badjie said they have declared lots of area as growth centers as they don’t want to see what happened in the Greater Banjul Area repeat at regional level.
He said they will embark on a visibility study in order to know what the problem of the traffic congestion between Tabokoto and Westfield.