Reclaimed Banjul Swampland Allocated to Councillors, Others Mayor Bah explains

By Sailu Bah
Mr. Abdoulie Bah, the Mayor of Banjul, has confirmed the reclaimingBanjul land reclaimed for residential purposes
and allocation of land on the swamps situated on the farthest end of the Tesito Road in Tobacco Road in the capital city.
This reclaimed land, which measures 120 metres by 150 metres, was partly being used by one Baba Saho as an auto mechanic workshop.This followed reports received by Foroyaa that the said wetland has
been reclaimed and allocated for residential purposes which may pose
some environmental challenges to the city Speaking to this reporter in an interview in his office on Friday, 13 March, 2015, Mayor Bah also disclosed that the said land was allocated to City councilors, including himself, and other residents of Banjul.
“The land is meant for Banjulians, especially the councillors, who are
servants of the people, as each one of them has been identified for a
plot of land, including myself, as well as other Banjulians who are
very much in need of it,” said Mayor Bah.
The mayor said the Banjul City Council (BCC) which owns the land has
got the approval of central government through the Ministry of
Regional Government and Land, to reclaim and allocate the said land.
According to the Banjul Mayor, the allocation of the said land will
benefit at least 30 families. He said, over the years,  the place has
turned into dry  land and could now be used for residential purposes.
He said those who are allocated with a plot cannot sell it until after
50 years, adding that the Council will block any move to change the
use of land for purposes other than what it has been allocated to the
owner for.
In giving further justification for the move, the Banjul Mayor said
priority is being given to the citizens of Banjul to utilize the land
in order to avoid the migration of Banjulians to the Kombos.
“A lot of Banjulians have now vacated to the Kombos which is not good
for our City. The welfare of Banjulians is a priority to the Council.
We, as a Council under my leadership and with the help of government,
will try by all means to make sure that the welfare of Banjulians are
taking care of,” said the mayor.
He said Mr. Saho, the owner of the auto mechanic workshop which is
affected by the reclamation or reassignment, has been compensated with
a plot in the said area. He said the Council has also given him
another land around Bund Road where he can transfer his workshop.
Commenting on the environmental concerns, the Mayor of Banjul said
this will not pose any threat. He said Banjul is an island and that
the places which were initially thought to have the potential of
posing a threat to the environment have been reclaimed since and are
now residential areas. He cited James Senegal Street in Banjul North
as an example, adding that the place used to be inundated with water
from the adjoining wetlands “Tanbi” but is now used as a residential
area which has not posed any threat to the environment.
Speaking to Mr. Baba Saho, the owner of the auto mechanic workshop, on
Saturday, 14 March 2015, at his work place, he confirmed the
reclaiming of the said land. He said he has been using the land as a
workshop for the past 23 years.
On the history of the land, Mr. Saho said it was initially a swampy
area with mud and shrubs all over the place and that he had to spend
money to clear and level the ground with gravel in order to use it.
He said BCC is the rightful owner of the land and that if they want to
reclaim it for another purpose then he had no choice but to accept it.
“The custodian of lands in the Gambia is the central government and
BCC, as a locality, owns this land and have every right to repossess
it when they need it. I have nothing to complain as the land does not
belong to me but to the City Council.,” said Mr. Saho.
Asked whether he was compensated, he responded in the positive, adding
that a plot on the said land is given to him as well as another
elsewhere to relocate his workshop.
He said the former mayor of Banjul, Mr. Pa Sallah Jeng, gave him a
letter to temporally use the land for his workshop.
Visiting the area, the reporter saw the visible marks of the
demarcation with pegs to identify the individual plots.