By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Abdoulie Jobe, erstwhile Trade Minister and Managing Director of NAWEC, yesterday revealed to Commissioners that it was stated in a letter from the office of the former president, that heads would roll should they fail to negotiate with Global Trading Group on the proposal given to them by GIEPZA, on energy matters.
Jobe was summoned before the ‘Janneh’ Commission in connection to NAWEC’s contracts.
Prior to his testimony, Jobe gave a synopsis of his career in the public service, starting from the Gambia Utilities Corporation (GUC) in 1983. He told the Commission that he is an engineer by profession but is currently being employed by the Organization for the Management of the River Gambia (OMVG).
According to Jobe, he became Managing Director of NAWEC in 2004, and again from 2009-2010, he was appointed as MD of the same Company; that he also became the Managing Director of the Public Utility Regulatory Authority (PURA) from 2010-2014.
Jobe further explained that from 1998-2004, he was the Director of Water Supply and Sewage; that in 2004, there was a contract between NAWEC and GTG, stating that they were developing numerous projects on water and electricity supply with the Islamic Development Bank (IDB).
According to him, GTG was responsible for the installation of generators and also built tankers at Half Die, which was not done by GTG. He however confirmed that the contract was signed in 2002 with a 3% mark-up and was briefed by his predecessor about the contract.
Jobe said at the end, a committee was formed to review the contract and saw what was accomplished by GTG; that his approach was to engage those who were involved in the contract but was removed and his successor took over matters.
Jobe told the Commission that he wrote to GTG asking them why the tanks were not installed, but that before the completion of the process, he was fired.
At this juncture, Commission Counsel Amie Bensdouda, told him that in a letter to NAWEC, GTG indicated that they could not build the tanks due to poor soil and opted to compensate the Utility Company for the storage of fuel at the Mandinary depot at no cost; that he remembered taking the minutes of a meeting for NAWEC to be compensated; that they engaged GTG but he did not know why they came up with the proposal of compensating NAWEC with free storage of fuel.
A copy of the agreement for the sale of fuel by GTG to NAWEC was shown to him and was told that the delivery was done with NAWEC’s tankers at the ports. In response, Jobe said NAWEC had their own tankers which were not enough. He said GTG was allowed to provide additional tankers for the delivery of the product.
Still testifying, Jobe disclosed that the building of the tankers was GTG’s proposal but that before they finished reviewing it, he was removed from his position; that there was no connection between the capacity charge and the HO4, and that the capacity charge impacted the IPP with a 17% mark-up. Jobe confirmed that he signed the IPP contract with GTG; that when he took over as MD in 2004, there was no IPP in place. He further testified that there were black outs and the Ministry of Energy and the office of the former president decided to take over the portfolio.
According to him, in early 2000, there was an acute supply of electricity for lack of investment in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity. He said they decided then to come up with something that was standard for the energy sector, by engaging the private sector to participate in the business with them.
During this period, he said the Electricity and PURA Acts respectively, were regulated to encourage private sector participation; that the policy and the Act were assented to by the former president and it became a Law, noting that they developed guidelines to advise anybody who wanted to participate in Electricity generation.
Jobe said when he took over as the Managing Director, there was a project awarded to a French Company (RMT), for the transmission as well as for NAWEC to run a network from Kotu to Brikama.
The former energy Company director adduced that in 2005 there was a proposal that was submitted to NAWEC by GIEPZA and that they received a letter from the office of the former president to forward the proposal; that they were told that they had two days to complete the negotiation with GTG or heads would roll.
At this juncture, Commissioner Saine asked him whether it was unique for the former president to tell NAWEC who to partner with and the witness responded that he did not know. He further stated that based on experience and standards, they used the guidelines which they prepared.
Jobe informed the Commission that NAWEC was under the office of the former president and they set up a management committee to prepare a standard guideline and started the negotiation with GTG which was completed in 2005; that GTG proposed a capacity charge of $33.3 per kilo watt and the duration of the contract was for 5 years.
According to him, they negotiated for two days but Bazzi did not agree; that they indicated in their report to the office of the former president that they could not come to terms with Bazzi on the capacity charge. A letter was read to him by Commission Counsel saying that the excess charges by Bazzi and payments, were all addressed; that they were to test the capacity charge as to whether the generators had the same capacity, and if GTG did not meet the actual capacity due to them, there would be a penalty.
He further informed Commissioners that with the usage of the IPP, they have what is called take or pay but that Bazzi started with 90% and they later agreed on 85%.
At this juncture, Chairman Sourahata Janneh put it to him that the generators taken to the IPP were second-hand generators. He then asked Jobe whether Bazzi pretended that the generators were new ones and he responded that both stakeholder and supplier knew that the generators were not new ones.
According to him, GTG was conditioned to register a Company in the Gambia to be governed by Gambian Laws which was GEG, and Bazzi was expected to hand over the Memorandum and Article and Association to NAWEC as evidence; that when he came back in 2009, he tasked each of his directors, including the director of finance, to prepare a situation report from 2006-2009.
He finally testified that capacity charge payments from 2006-2009 by NAWEC to GEG, were available.
Hearing continues today.