By Lamin FattY
The staff of the Basse Immigration Office have vacated the premises they occupied for the last decade and a half, after being served notice by the Sumareh Kunda family, who are the owners.
According to sources, Basse Immigration staff on Friday and Saturday, May 13th and 14th 2019 respectively, were seen busy transferring office equipment from the said building, to a store given to them by Hamidou Jah, owner of Jah Oil Company. The source indicates that the store given to the Officers is a temporal measure before they got a new place for their office; that the same situation continued on Monday, as Immigration staff continued to stay at home, because they are yet to confirm where their new office will be, before they can resume normal office work.
This reporter spoke to the Director General of Immigration Seedy Touray, who confirmed the story. Director Touray said he is just a few months in office as Director General and inherited the problem He said the Immigration unit in Basse was renting at this premise for nearly twenty years; that the building is family property that belongs to the Sumareh Kunda family. DG Touray said two years ago, the family notified the office of the then Director General of Immigration that they needed their property.
“My predecessor who had a gentleman’s agreement with the said family upon receiving the notification, indicated to them that by 31st December 2018, they will vacate the premises. When I came into office, the family approached me on the same issue which I have no idea of,” DG Touray told this reporter. He said the only thing he did was to appeal to the family to extend the deadline, which the family accepted; that this is why they are looking for a new premise to house the Immigration office in Basse.
“We have secured a new place now, but the committee responsible for rent and accommodation at the office of the vice President, are yet to act. We have overstayed the limit of the deadline. This means we must vacate until everything is finalised for our new office in Basse,” DG Touray concludes.
This reporter also spoke to a family member of Sumareh Kunda and the Alkalo of Basse, to further confirm the story.
According to Musa Sumareh of Kulari village in Tumanna District, the family wants to renovate the premises a long time ago; that the Basse Immigration office was notified by the family, but they did not comply. Sumareh said the family has exercised patience with the Office for quite some time now and they can no longer wait.
The Alkalo of Basse Mamadou Selou Bah, said this is rather an act of negligence from the authorities of the Gambia Immigration Department; that the Department was given land in Basse five years ago for them to put up an office complex and settle there; but that they are yet to build any structure on the said land; that the Department of Immigration is such an important office that they should settle in their own premise, rather than renting or occupying people’s places.