Gambia: Increasing Land Conflicts in Gambia

29 March 2019

Effective land management is predicated on proper ownership. It is those with legitimate documentation for the land they claim to own who can confidently make decisions on what to do with their parcels and maximise the potential.

Ownership is essentially determined by title deeds. Unfortunately, there is increasing conflicts involving land conflicts in the country that need urgent address.

As earlier mentioned in one of our editorials, conflicts over land are common and becoming a major problem in The Gambia and in some cases resort to violent confrontation.

The growing nature of land scarcity in the communal areas does not, however, mean that conflicts over land are always economically motivated.

Just this week, we reported about a mass demolition exercise undertaken by personnel of the Sheriff Division and the move was in accordance with a High Court order at Farato Bafuloto.

Meanwhile, more than hundred compounds situated at Tujereng Farakunku, Kombo South are currently facing imminent risk of demolition, following a ruling by the ex-District Tribunal Chief Sheriff M.L. Janneh in favour of Karamo Saikou Jatta. The legal battle involves Jabang Kunda, Baduma Kabilo and one Karamo Saikou Jatta of Tujereng village.

It is high time government put in place firm measures involving land cases to avoid further calamities. Land issues, particularly its access, ownership and use, are often central to understanding the dynamics of conflict and post-conflict settings.

Claims to land ownership without title deed cannot be sustained when there is a contest over property rights. This explains the prevalent vice of land grabbing. Even estate land developers are facing similar constraints, as property registration in ensuring that the property one buys is genuine.

We have seen circumstances where land dealers would sell one piece of land to different individuals. Isn't that fanning conflicts considering the amount of a plot of land these days?

We therefore call on government to take a firm stance or even reactivate land commission to deal with some of this very many land conflicts in the country. Government should view communal land conflicts a top priority to avoid further tensions.

Sometimes, delays in issuance of land documents are the major obstacles further compounding some of these conflicts. It is important for land owners to expedite land registration and issuance of title deeds to give citizens legitimate ownership of their parcels so that they can put into proper economic use.

"Man must evolve for all human conflict a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love."

Martin Luther King, Jr.

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