By Awa Macalo
The vice president of The Gambia has urged lands minister to put an embargo on foreign real estate development in The Gambia, saying if all the land is sold, the next generation will be deprived of shelter.
“If we commercialize these lands, where would our families and the future generations live? Especially when you give it to the foreign private estate developers who make millions, repatriate the money and that is capital flight. Then we are denuded of land for our families. No, that is wrong,” Dr Badara Alieu Joof said.
He urged the lands minister to place at least a 2-year moratorium on foreign estate development until enough land is given to Gambians.
“I’d encourage the minister to impose at least an embargo for the next two to three years on foreign estate land development, re-assess the land policy and see how we can give at least 90 to 95 percent of the land to Gambians for homes for shelter. It is a human right,” he added.
The vice president made these remarks at a 2-day cabinet retreat organised by his office.
The meeting brought together government officials from all ministries to discuss pressing development issues and come up with implementable actions.
“We need land banking for tourism. We also need land banking for agriculture, we need land banking fish farming. We need those things. We are not a big country like some of our neighbouring countries, so this land, which is finite land, we must manage judiciously,” VP Joof added. “The other aspect of the land that we need to look at, Honourable Minister, is protect the minority who historically had access to a particular land. It is the duty of government to protect minority rights. We should protect them to avoid some crises and instability. Some of them are raw facts and there are no lavender words for the truth. Oscar Wilde says it is a moral obligation to say the truth and when you say it, it becomes a pleasure. I derive pleasure in telling people the truth no matter what. That is why we say ‘so help me God.”