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 Medical items donated to health ministry
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Posted - 03 Jul 2024 :  20:47:57  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Medical items donated to health ministry “auctioned to FaBB” for less than 1% of the value
The Republic: July 3, 2024

A 40ft container of medical items that was donated to the Ministry of Health has been ‘sold’ to the foundation that was established by the wife of the President, Fatou Bah-Barrow. In August 2023, the Fatou Bah Barrow Foundation reportedly bought the container of medical supplies and equipment donated to the Health Ministry by Foundation 221 in an auction conducted by the Customs Department of the Gambia Revenue Authority, whose commissioner— Alhagie K Mbaye— is a board member of FaBB.

While the donors of the container shipped from the USA said it contained medical items worth $463,830, equivalent to at least D31 million, the Customs Department sold it to FaBB for D200,000 dalasi, less than 1% of its value.

Foundation 221, a US-registered charity and incorporated in the Gambia in 2022, first made contact with the Ministry of Health in May 2022. This was a pitch for a meeting to discuss future partnership. On June 6, 2022, the Ministry shared with the charity a list of medical equipment and consumables needed in facilities across the country.

The charity then mobilised medical equipment and consumables valued at close to half a million dollars to support the country’s ailing health sector. In August 2022, the President and the Chief Executive Officer of the charity, Moussa Niang, wrote to the Ministry informing the minister Dr Ahmadou Lamin Samateh that a 40ft container with medical consumables and equipment was enroute.

The letter to the Ministry was accompanied with a 21-page document containing a list of all the consumables and equipment in the container. The list of items include surgical drapes, surgical gowns, Ambu bags, breathing circuits, nebuliser adaptors, nebulisers, flow inflating resuscitation devices, urological catheters, oxygen tubes, respiratory filters and adaptors, suction pump, breathing therapy unit, infrared thermometer and stethoscope.

The consignee on the bill of lading seen by The Republic is Muhammadou Lamin Jaiteh, a former permanent secretary at the Ministry currently standing trial on charges of economic crimes. Jaiteh was charged in October 2023, about 2 months after the container was sold.

The tracking details of the container show it arrived in The Gambia on October 4, 2022, and discharged a day later. On August 7, 2023,about eleven months after the Ministry failed to secure the container’s release, the Customs officials auctioned it to the FaBB for D200, 000.

“The container was auctioned in August 2023 with GTR Receipt # 1718815 for D200, 000 to FaBB Foundation,” said a Customs officer who does not want to be named.

Charity turns to military for solution

By April 2023, the Foundation 221’s partners started raising questions about the container. “This issue has cost us a lot. The charity has cut funding to its Gambia branch because of this issue,” said Muhammed Marong, the organisation’s spokesperson. Under pressure, and as a last minute desperate attempt, the charity turned to the Gambia military on April 19, 2023 so that they could secure the release of the container. This was two days after the auctioning of the container was published in the gazette, a fact unknown to the charity.

“The military advised us to tell the Ministry (of Health) to write a letter indicating that they couldn’t clear the container, and authorising other institutions to do so,” said Marong.

The director of operations of the charity, Buba Sanyang, then informed the Ministry of the military’s request. The sacked Permanent Secretary, Jaiteh, requested to be given fifteen days to clear the container.

It is unclear why the Ministry could not secure the release of the container on time. According to Customs regulations, items imported into the country by charitable foundations and government institutions are exempt from customs duties.

Read more here:

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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