15 May 2018

Sudan: El Gezira Scheme - Ministry Settles Sale of Assets By Giving Houses

El Gezira — The Ministry of Agriculture announced that the state has sold railway lines in El Gezira agricultural scheme, and settled the issue by giving houses to 2,500 affected workers in Sudan's largest agricultural project.

A committee on the liquidation of public sector facilities at the ministry of finance has sold all railway lines in El Gezira Scheme to undisclosed parties, State Minister of Agriculture El Sadig Fadlallah informed members of the national parliament in a session on Monday.

Some 2,5000 workers in El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme have been granted ownership of houses as a kind of settlement, including a payment for the estimated value difference. They have also been given vehicles, Fadlallah said.

The state minister pointed out that agricultural workers received ownership of a building in Port Sudan.

The session in parliament witnessed a rejection of Fadlallah's answer to the question of the disposition of the assets by Member of Parliament (MP) Mahmoud Abdeljabbar. The minister's reply has therefore been referred to a specialised committee.

Abdeljabbar continued his speech by claiming that the Sudanese government is destroying El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme.

El Gezira and El Managil Agricultural Scheme, located between the Blue and White Niles, south of Khartoum, used to be one of the world's largest irrigation projects. In late 2014, President Al Bashir described the Scheme as a burden on the country's budget. And in September 2015, the Agriculture Ministry amended the El Gezira Scheme Act, aimed at transferring land ownership to the private sector and foreign investors.

According to Abdeen Bargawi, the spokesman for the El Gezira and El Managil Farmers Association, the Scheme's administration mortgaged assets with the value of SDG341 million in 2016 (more than $52 million at the time) to Sudanese banks.

Village demolished

Three weeks ago, farmers in El Gezira state strongly condemned the demolition by the authorities of a village in El Hasahisa locality. Bulldozers, accompanied by a large police force using excessive force and tear gas, destroyed large parts of Kombo Aftas, a village inhabited by seasonal labourers and small farmers.

The demolition came against the backdrop of a conflict between the people of Kombo Aftas and a neighbouring village concerning a piece of land, Jaafar Mohamed, Secretary-general of the Kanabi Association, told Radio Dabanga.

He described the incident as "a clear indicator of corruption in the land sector" and pointed to previously attempts by the authorities to demolish a number of settlements in the area.

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