By Kebba Secka
KMC Mayor Talib A. Bensouda, on Saturday, 20th April, held a fund-raising meeting with representatives of Companies and businesses to sponsor his Council’s plan to capture and keep a comprehensive digital data on all properties within the Municipality.
The purpose of doing so is for the mapping and naming of streets in order to capture all tax information on private and commercial properties. The KMC Mayor said this will make revenue generation effective and efficient. He therefore called on Companies and businesses to sponsor the digitalization project because the street or plate name, will bear the name of the Sponsor who will also have access to Council’s database for five years. He was however quick to add that access to Council’s database excludes sensitive information.
The digital mapping according to officials of the KMC, will commence once sponsorship has been secured as all the logistics and expertise needed are within their disposal. “House numbering and street naming and addressing affects every aspect of our socio-economic development including security, governance and businesses. This is important to any society and cannot be down played,” Mayor Bensouda said. He highlighted the immense challenges faced by some institutions in the municipality such as Postal Services and Commercial banks when it comes to lack of permanent addresses of customers; pointing out that even though the banking sector is struggling to grow, recovering certain loans remains a big challenge. Highlighting the frustration and difficulties faced by fire fighters when responding to emergences, he argued that Fire fighters, ambulances and security officers can derive benefits from the project regarding accessibility to intended areas in terms of emergences. He further argued that lack of addresses makes public utilities and other Companies unable to effectively gauge their customers, making it very difficult for them to grow.
Mayor Bensouda said Council loses close to three hundred million dalasi (D350,000,000) in uncollected taxes due to lack of proper addresses in the municipality’s database.
“We are unable to fully recover our tax debt. An extra thirty thousand (30,000) of unregistered properties are unaccounted for, because we do not know to whom these properties belong and where they are located,” said Mayor Bensouda; adding that out of thirty five thousand (35,000) properties, only five thousands (5000) are actually valued because they are the only registered ones.
“If we have all the thirty-five thousand properties valued, we expect D250 million as extra tax revenue. But what we do not know is the thirty thousand properties that are not registered,” he added. According to him, the unregistered properties in their database is the reason why Council initiated the project. Mayor Bensouda explained that the project if implemented, will not have any impact on the current rate that Council has fixed.
On his part, the Chief Executive Officer of the KMC Jaja Cham, said currently the Council has 8,000 streets Poles and 15,000 street plates to be used to name the streets and properties within the KM and 52 million dalasis (D52,000,000) is needed to finance the whole project.
Philippe Rapaport of GIS/drone, said D24 million will be needed to finance all the poles and street plates. Officials also indicate that the employees of the project will be Gambians.
In response to the Mayor’s appeal, the business representatives promised to refer the matter to their Boards and Managing Directors. The Mayor in turn indicted that there will be a follow-up meeting.