April 14, 2015 By Jariatu S. Bangura
As members of the parliamentary Committee on Labour and Industrial Relations yesterday visited the National Social Security and Insurance Trust (NASSIT) investments in Waterloo in the Western Rural, officials from the scheme informed members that the Ministry of Lands, Housing and Infrastructure had encroached on part of a land that was granted to them by the offending ministry in 2005.
Director of Investment at NASSIT, Dr. Brima I.B. Kargbo, said the social security institution had acquired 107 acres of land from the Ministry of Lands by way of a grant agreement that was signed in 2008. He said the land was meant for the construction of affordable housing but because of a fall in interest to procure the houses, they decided to sell it to HFC Mortgage.
Dr. Kargbo said NASSIT security personnel were removed from the land by Lands Ministry officials, and that they lodged a complaint with the police at Waterloo but they were referred to the Ross Road Police Division, where they made statements, although nothing has been since heard from the police.
He told the parliamentary delegation that Lands Ministry personnel are now occupying the NASSIT land while building constructions are being erected by private individuals. He maintained that NASSIT had made payments to the Rural District Council and annual rents to the ministry in respect of the land.
Kargbo said the NASSIT houses at Waterloo cost US$35,000 for a three bedroom apartment and US$25,000 for two bedroom duplets, which tenants pay on mortgage.
Moreover, Senior Land Surveyor, Tamba Dauda, confirmed the land was leased to NASSIT on 11 March, 2013 but the lease agreement was terminated on 15 April, 2014 for non-payment of rent and failure to develop the property as stipulated in the lease agreement.
Dauda confirmed the ministry had deployed personnel at the land because NASSIT did not comply with the lease agreement, but added that, “We never granted permission to anyone to erect houses at the place as at now”.
Chairman of the committee, Hon. Dr. Foday Suma, said they would summon both institutions to further furnish the committee with full information on the matter, which he said was of immense concern to the committee responsible for overseeing their activities.
On his part, Managing Director of HFC Mortgage, Ahmed Bakarr Kamara said in 2006, “NASSIT wrote for us to conduct a visibility study in the country which we did and at the end our business was established and registered in 2007, and we acquired licenses from the Central Bank to commence operations. In 2009, a mortgaging home was established of which NASSIT is 82% shareholder and the remaining 18% was acquired by major partners”.