By Adama Tine
A recent study by the Gambia Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (GCCPC) on the state of consumer welfare in the Real Estate Industry has accused some Alkalolu (village heads) for being responsible for consumers inability to have access to their official transfer documents or properties after making full payments.
According to the study, some of the Alkalolu do not take due diligence to obtain proof of ownership of properties or if the land to be sold is a reserved land for social amenities or other purposes different from residential.
“Some Alkalolu have the reputation of wanting to make money by reselling land that they know belongs to another,” the study revealed.
As a result, the study said the action is known as double allocation of land with the Alkalolu illegally selling one plot of land to different people.
The study added that some of the real estate companies buy those properties through Alkalolu knowing that they already belong to someone else, which brings problems when it is time to provide the documentations for the land or show consumers the land they paid for.
In some instances the report said, real estate companies buy land from the owners through payment plans, sign the payment plan agreement with the seller and the seller urges the Alkalo to make the transfer to the real estate company even without the company completing their payments.
According to the report, the above mentioned issues usually result to scenarios where one plot of land is sold to two or more companies and those companies start selling the plots to their consumers which the study said, is one of the reasons why some consumers will finish making the installment payments and the companies cannot provide them with documentations.
“There are also situations when real estate companies buy a property, sometimes sold by an individual without the knowledge or permission from their family members, clans or “Kabilos”, forcing multiple claims of the same land”, further revealed the study.
The report also mentioned that from the estate companies’ point of view, they are also concerned about the high level of bureaucracy involved in obtaining documents for land.
The GCCPC study highlighted that it is important to note that Alkalolu or local transfers are the beginning of the process to get official transfers or lease documents for properties, therefore, if there are fraudulent practices at that stage, consumers are at the risk of never getting their necessary documents to develop their properties.