By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Momodou B. Jallow, former Managing Director of NAWEC, yesterday reappeared before the ‘Janneh’ Commission and disclosed that former president Yahya Jammeh and businessman Muhammed Bazzi’s interference, contributed to NAWEC’s failure.
Jallow was summoned on matters relating to the contracts of the Company. He told the Commission that he could remember the issues of discount and rates being presented to him; that they were told by Bazzi that they should refund the cost of the discount but he told him that it was not the responsibility of NAWEC to refund.
According to him, the IPP was commissioned before he became MD, noting that they were not given enough money to pay for the IPP; that with the IPP, there was a drastic improvement on electricity but that all the money was going to help the IPP, further stating that the transmission and distribution network was not good, and financially, it was not good business for NAWEC.
At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda put it to him that when the contract was signed in 2007, the mark-up was 17%. Jallow responded that he was not aware of the 3% mark-up. He however told the Commission that when Mr. Bazzi brought the contract to his office, he told him that the former president wanted him to sign the contract which he confirmed.
Jallow testified that he was told by Mr. Bazzi that the former president told him (Bazzi), that at the end of the contract, NAWEC would be free to bring fuel without charges and will keep the fuel at the Mandinary depot as well.
Counsel Bensouda at this juncture put it to him that there was a $52 per metric tonne difference, and asked why. In response, Jallow said he was doing his job in good faith and felt that he should not refuse when Mr. Bazzi brought the contract from the former president to sign, considering what obtained at the time.
At this juncture, Commissioner Saine put it to him that the Company generated losses and he responded that there was 33% losses; that the generators at Brikama were not good ones because they were second-hand generators and they changed the transformers to make sure the loss was reduced; that the losses on electricity should have been taken into account before venturing on the IPP contract. When asked by Commissioner Saine whether the Company’s weakness was highlighted, Jallow responded that saying there was no tender for the IPP, was wrong. He said the former president was the problem; that the former president was enslaving people; that the losses could have been higher. Jallow said if one is not given the opportunity to transform his/her organization, there is no way this can be possible even if the person is highly educated. He further disclosed that the former president preferred to do business with individuals rather than reputable Companies.
On generators funded by SSHFC, he revealed to the Commission that he was called to a meeting at the Ministry of Finance and upon arrival, he found some directors at the office whom he joined; Bazzi came in and said he was from State House and was told by the former president that NAWEC should buy generators from China but this should be funded by SSHFC.
Jallow further narrated that the signing of the contract took two days, noting that they made sure all what the former president wanted was done; that it took a long time before the generators were delivered. He testified that payment to SSHFC was suspended and that he was not aware of the payment of $1.8 million by SSHFC.
Further testifying, Jallow revealed to the Commission that when he was leaving, the process was still on and the generators were never commissioned; that up to the time he was removed in 2009, there was a capacity charge.
Dwelling on the Venezuela loan, Jallow stated that there was a loan of $22,000,000 from Bandesh Bank, noting that they presented a project document to secure the said amount to improve the transmission and distribution of electricity within the Greater Banjul Area.
Mr. Jallow further informed the Commission that over 90% was won by GTG while the remaining percentage was won by some Gambian Companies and that of Bazzi’s associates; that he received a letter from the office of the former president with regard to the project, that part of the funds was to settle the Bazzi Group; that there were outstanding invoices.
The former NAWEC boss revealed that he was present when the loan agreement was being signed in Venezuela but he did not sign it; that his deputy, Mrs. Sira Wally Ndow-Njie, represented NAWEC and one Mustapha Colley, who was also in the committee, to secure the loan.
Still testifying, he told the Commission that the Water Project was funded by the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) to improve water production and transmission within the Greater Banjul Area; that the bidders included a Nigerian Company.
Jallow said the contract was awarded to the Nigerian Company but down the line, they could not perform and the contract was awarded to the highest bidder, Water Resources and Development (WARD); that he was removed before the implementation started.
He was asked whether there were any projects that the former president was involved in. He answered that there was a 10 megawatt project and Bazzi wanted to offer 3 megawatt sets; that he told him that this was what the former president had told him and the then Minister of Finance confirmed this to him (Mr. Jallow).
He indicated that he told the then Minister of Finance that the 10 megawatt was to be substituted with the 3 megawatt sets; but that the then Minister told him that this was not possible, further stating that there was a lot of interference in the project and this was why the project was not completed.
Jallow adduced that they did some works at State House, Kanilai, Palm Grove etc and the former president never paid NAWEC for the services rendered; that the former president was bringing other people who interfered in NAWEC operations and these people never wanted the problem to be solved.
According to Jallow, the former president framed him that he wanted to poison him; that he had to face a high level panel of investigators, who wanted to implicate him in the poisoning of the former president; that it was a scaring time that they went through.
Documents relating to the two statements of the witness on NAWEC post-dated cheques and NAWEC’s general issues, were tendered and admitted in evidence.
At this juncture, Commission Chairman Sourahata Janneh, asked the witness whether NAWEC has ever conducted a survey of generating a profit. In response, Jallow said he could not remember. He put it to him that NAWEC was not successful because of debt, materials and electricity itself. Mr. Jallow responded in the affirmative.
Further challenged, Chairman Janneh told the witness that there was bad network of transmission and distribution which affected NAWEC’s profitability; that the inefficient management of fuel and spare parts contributed immensely. Jallow responded in the positive and acknowledged that central and local government, as well as former president Jammeh and Bazzi’s interference, contributed to the failure of NAWEC.
Mr. Nani Juwara, Deputy Managing Director of NAWEC, testified on free electricity provision within Foni, as directed by the former president and answered questions relating to Aqua Company operations in the country.
Hearing continues on Monday.