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.]]>

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