By Louise Jobe
The Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) Ousman M Jobarteh, said the acquisition of ‘Half Die’ properties in Banjul as part of the Port expansion project, was earmarked by Government as a natural expansion area of the Port. Jobarteh said the first phase of this acquisition was acquired in 2012; that the current acquisition is called Basic Yard Extension Phase 2.
The GPA MD said the Port Management have recruited an independent consulting firm to undertake the valuation exercise with a view to arriving at a basis to guide their negotiations with property owners, for the eventual acquisition; that property owners are compensated for both the land and structures on them, noting that Banjul properties are freehold and should be acquired in this manner; that the acquisition process is guided by best practice for the relocation of residents. Jobarteh said during the first phase, property owners were allocated alternative plots of land, to enable the families construct.
Other economic operators within the affected areas he said were also compensated for their loss of earnings over a given period, with a view to alleviate their hardship; that overall, they will compensate property owners for the acquisition of their properties and the relocation of residents in order to arrive at a settlement for the Port extension.
The view of property owners:
According to some of the affected residents of Banjul South (Half Die), the GPA wants to take possession of their compounds; that GPA Authorities have served those compound owners with notice; that many of the compound owners want to give their own price for their lands but the authorities instead want to dictate the price of their compounds to them.
The information gathered from land owners indicate that during the first phase, the GPA’s arrangement to enter into negotiation with the people of Banjul South did not help; that some people are yet to receive their balance of money from the GPA, for the first phase; that problems were created for those from large families regarding the sharing of the money given to them; that some of these families still live in rented apartments because the money they received was not sufficient enough to buy land.
“Our fear is that GPA may take the whole of Banjul South and we will not have anywhere to live,” a concerned family head lamented to this reporter. He said they will not mind to demonstration to show their frustrations because they have nowhere to go.