SSHFC’s Serious Breach of Confidentiality

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Follow up by Sarjo Bayang

Data Protection laws compromised

Compromising security and violation of data protection requirements is what the current state of affairs reveals between SSHFC and more than 100 deserving customers.  

Clients of Social Security Housing Finance Corporation SSHFC deserve protection of the nation’s laws not just for security of property. All correspondence and documentation regarding such properties needed to be executed with strict adherence to data protection laws if that exists within the legal big book of Gambia. If it does not, then here is a test case demanding such laws to be considered for inclusion.

Social Security could have utilized more healthy and proper instruments of communication than using private or public media platforms. Publication of personal details without following due process of consultations is high handed and needs to be discouraged. People allocated plots by SSHFC are genuine persons who deserve all respect and preservation of dignity. It is most improper for a public corporation of this high profile to bypass protocol and resort to ways resembling unethical client relationship management misconduct.

Breach of confidentiality

Each of the listed persons entered into contract with SSHFC relying on basic tenets of confidentiality. Such trust is severely compromised by mere publication of client’s details without recourse to due process.

Even where clients of the corporation failed to meet some conditions stated in the contract there are more decent and proper ways of resolving that than resorting to the media publication.

For example, SSHFC had the better option of writing to affected persons privately and to make regular follow up contacts. In the look of things and from what those affected are saying that has not been done. Where it turned out that all negotiations failed, communication to that effect would have been done better by private correspondence as standard of best practice dictates.

Lack of stakeholder consultation

People working at SSHFC do not own the corporation in any way more than clients they now choose to repossess. The corporation could not boast of more important stakeholders than clients in whose good name they exist.

Most proper code of conduct is to enter into positive dialogue with all stakeholders including those affected by this lack of development on their allocated plots.

By not encouraging dialogue and resorting to this harsh way of dealing with clients it becomes a subject of serious concern that a public corporation is acting in private income generating capacity.

Everyone is aware that land prices have gone up sky high especially in recent years. There is no doubt some eagerly potential buyers are bracing up for the catastrophic eventuality of the premeditated repossession exercise lined up by SSHFC.

More than 100 plots are affected. This could not go down easily. Anyone who is pushing this agenda is setting very bad precedence. There are lots of possible solutions that need exploring.

October ultimatum is not feasible and lacks merits

Coming up with the ultimatum for plot owners to effect development between August 2013 and October 2013 is no reasonable timing. It is not feasible and totally lacks merit.

The reason being that those unable to carry out development in 10 years, it is impossible that they can do so in less than 3 months.

While SSHFC is contemplating repossession of deserving clients, it has to be remembered that the corporation dished out larger chunks of land at the same estates to their staff especially those in senior management. That is unjust to start with. The public had all rights to protest against that but kept mute out of respect and on Gambian value system of tolerance.

How does it feel if the public starts to protest against the allocation of plots to security staffs and demand justice?  While in public office, it is best that prudence prevails. There are lots of skeletons hidden in cupboards that could provoke public anger.

Repossession is no solution

Still looking for solution, nothing stops SSHFC from coming up with very strong business case developed into a project proposal as rescue plan. Tell your development partners that after successful implementation of the housing scheme, all targets have not been met.

Looking at matters closely Brusubi Phase 1 is a particularly successful housing scheme. Out of almost 1000 plots, the corporation is raising alarm about less than 150 undeveloped spaces. That is more than 75% success story. The wisest thing is to consolidate that success and not break it by resorting to repossession.

In consultation with stakeholders there are bound to be solutions. By knocking on the proper doors broader financial avenues can be explored for funding opportunities. To repossess these plots and resell them at prohibitive prices indicates bankruptcy of SSHFC both financially and strategic capability in problem solving. Not finding appropriate solution and by choosing legal action for repossession SSHFC risks serious failure of corporate social responsibility.

Possible solution

Several avenues explored will lead to windows of financing options to restore lost confidence between SSHFC key stakeholders.

Assuming that some of the plots have not been developed since allocation over 10 years ago, a study is required. Monitoring and evaluation by SSHFC would have revealed issues needing intervention.

Once the cause of delay is known, financing options can be considered. There may be several openings somewhere.

Should SSHFC possibly secure funding from available sources, this may boost confidence levels higher. It is possible to settle with fundraising options that attract little interest or none. Other funders make provide a grant where SSHFC helps build the properties concerned then charge nominal interest.

Once some of the affected persons move to their homes, what they pay as rent now will then be diverted to SSHFC on agreed terms.

Capital structure of SSHFC can be further enhanced with healthy cash flow situation. Better managed funds will provide additional housing opportunities elsewhere in the country.

Lack of proper consultation is perhaps the most critical leading cause of this whole quagmire. There are still untried possible solutions within reach.

The public notice in question

Here is the public notice posted by SSHFC. For data protection reasons and out of respect personal names and plot number details are reserved on this occasion:

 

“SOCIAL SECURITY AND HOUSING FINANCE CORPORATION

61 ECOWAS AVENUE, P. 0. BOX 570, BANJUL The GAMBIA

TEL: (220) 4227698, 4228688, 4228589 — FAX: (220) 4228688, 4228589

 

UNDEVELOPED PLOTS AT BRUSUBI ESTATE

The names listed hereunder have been allocated Serviced Plots at the BRUSUBI Housing Estate Phase 1 Proper. However, since allocation, they have failed to develop their plots. These undeveloped serviced plots do not only diminish the aesthetic of the estate but in most cases serve as den for criminals and dangerous reptiles such as snakes in the neighbourhoods. Beneficiaries of these plots are hereby reminded that this is in complete breach of the terms and conditions of their allocation. Therefore, after the 31st October, 2013 the Corporation would be instituting legal action against them leading to the repossession of their land for re-allocation.

SSHFC Management

June 2012”

 

Ends


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