By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Abdoulie Tambadou, the Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority, yesterday disclosed to the ‘Janneh’ Commission of Enquiry that the total cost contributed by both GPA and SSHFC for the Gallia ferries, amounted to D335,110,690.00.
The Ports MD testified that he was not aware whether the office of the former president has correspondence with regard to the procurement of the ferries.
According to GPA MD, the expected cost for the construction of slipways for the ferries was $500,000.00 noting that the total cost for Kunta Kinteh was 7,726,200.00 Euros but was quick to add that the office of the former president was not involved in the procurement of the said ferry.
Prior to Tambadou’s testimony, former Permanent Secretaries at the Ministries of Trade and Agriculture, were also summoned by the Commission with regard the acquisition of Mahindra tractors, in the form of a loan agreement between the Government of The Gambia and the Mahindra Company in India.
Naffie Barry, the permanent secretary at Ministry of Trade, Employment and Regional Integration, told the Commission that in November 2005, a delegation comprised of Balla Gaye, former Finance Minister and the former Chief Executive Officer of then GIPZA, went to India for a conclave and during the visit, a loan agreement was signed for the purchase of tractors.
According to Mrs. Barry, she and Kebba S Touray, signed the loan agreement on behalf of the then Minister Balla Gaye, after they were given authority to sign on behalf of the minister.
She explained that part of the agreement was the supply of 500 tractors with guaranty as well as an assembly plant; that the total loan was $6.7 million which she said, was signed by the then permanent secretary at the Ministry of Agriculture, Suruwa B Jaiteh.
Upon return from India, Mrs Barry said she forwarded the signed agreement to permanent secretaries at the Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance, as well as the Secretary General, office of the former president.
Madam Barry further explained that it was based on the instruction of the Secretary General that the delegation was formed to visit India, after the Gambian consular had shortlisted two Companies for the procurement of tractors and that they decided to choose Mahindra; that the agreement was signed between the former Government and the Company.
She recalled that upon their return from India, a report was made but she could not find the said report but was asked by the Commission Counsel Amie Bensouda, to find out and make it available to the Commission. However when shown a report by the Counsel, Mrs. Barry said it looked familiar but could not confirm as the one before the commission. PS Barry revealed that after recommending the Mahindra tractors, an agreement was signed on 12 April 2006, and the desire was for the tractors to be 500 units with the guaranty which she said, was signed by Suruwa B Jaiteh, the then Ps agric.
She finally testified that she was informed that the tractors arrived but could not tell the Commission what happened to the said tractors, noting that she believed the purpose of the tractors was for the mechanisation of farming and creation of employment.
Next to give evidence on the Mahindra tractors was Suruwa B Jaiteh, the former PS Agric who retired in 1998 but was on contract from 2005-2006, before he became a consultant.
Mr. Jaiteh said during his capacity as Permanent Secretary 2, he was responsible for programs and budget, at the Ministry. He told the Commission that in 2006 they were summoned by the office of the former president to sign for the Mahindra tractors on behalf of Government, by the then Secretary General, Mambury Njie. Asked by Counsel Bensouda whether there was any proposal for the acquisition of the tractors by the Ministry, he responded in the affirmative noting that in India, they conducted an inspection of Companies regarding tractors and Mahindra was chosen to be the supplier of the tractors.
Mr. Jaiteh further told the Commission that he signed for the acquisition of 500 tractors with Mahindra adding that by the time the tractors arrived, he was out of the system but arrangement was made with the Ministry of Finance for a consortium of Gambian entrepreneurs who can contract the tractors on loan.
However, He said he did not know whether the consortium was formed because he was sent to jail but was informed that the former president took over the responsibility of the tractors and kept them at KGI.
Kebba Manneh, Senior Manager, Technical Service at the GPA, also gave evidence on the Joint Venture Agreement for the purchase of Aljamdou and Kansala ferries.
Momodou Lamin Gibba also testified on the Gallia ferries in his capacity as the then Managing Director of SSHFC, as well as PS Local Government, who continued his evidence on the land leased to the Gambia Milling Corporation and other matters.