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Momodou



Denmark
10865 Posts

Posted - 13 May 2021 :  09:31:05  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PUBLIC PETITIONS COMMITTEE INQUIRES INTO GT BOARD STAFF PETITION ON ABUSE OF POWER AND CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS.

By Kexx Sanneh


The Senior staff of the Gambia Tourism Board have sent a Petition to the National Assembly Public Petitions committee to investigate claims that the GT Board has been abusing their power and engaging in corrupt activities and has not been following the legal guidelines in managing the affairs of the Board.

The staff have also claimed that the Minister of Tourism has been interfering with the running of the affairs of the Board to the extent that he ordered the transfer of some of them to different postings in the provinces where there are no offices and no tourism activities just to punish them for opposing the nefarious deals, that he and the Board had excluded them in negotiations involving the allocation of contracts for the building of some eco- tourism lodges in the provinces without following the due legal guidelines as stipulated in the Gambia Public Procurement Authority Act and also engaged in wrongful land allocations in the TDA area and other underhanded activities contrary to law.

The 9 member Public Petitions Committee which is chaired by Hon. Sunkary Badgie, has on Tuesday 10th May 2021 summoned the GPPA to appear and answer to issues pertaining to their role in the process of giving out contracts to bidders for eco-lodges in the provinces.

The petition of the staff raised concerns over the issue of abuse and corruption at Gambia Tourism Board. According to the staff for the past year and half there has been outright and open corruption by both the erstwhile Director General Mr. Abdoulie Hydara and the Director of Finance and administration Mr. Ousainou Senghore.

"These directors who have been placed to manage the affairs and develop the tourism industry economically, sustainably and otherwise, have been misusing, abusing and forming and creating dynasty to enrich themselves and their cronies and in turn frustrate and ridicule staff who question their honesty and lack of transparency. The Ministry of Tourism and Culture on the other hand has time and again neglected and even publicly defended such corruption and abuse of office", stated the petitioners.

According to the staff as captured in their petition, it is regrettable to say the least that at a time when the country should be focused on fighting COVID 19 and laying out plans for economic recovery post COVID 19, the Honourable Minister for Tourism and Culture is busy making statements and actions that would have serious negative consequences on the tourism industry and the country as a whole.

They went further to inform the Committee that the Honourable Minister had called a media conference declaring that tourism was 'Dead and at Ground Zero' and that as a responsible Minister he was sending all GTBoard staff home on a 50% salary pay monthly for a period of six months effective June 2020.

According to the petitioners, the declaration of tourism as dead does not only wear away tour operator confidence in the destination but also kills the spirit of all stakeholders in the tourism industry; that all tourism authorities worldwide were working together with stakeholders and coming up with strategies to address the impacts on tourism.

This was the concern of some dedicated and hardworking staff who thought that instead of going to the social media it was best to go and meet our Board Chairman and explain our concerns vis-a-vis the ongoing proliferating corruption going on at the GT Board, stated the petition.

The staff continued to make their case, stated that on Monday, 18th May 2020, a dedicated staff of 6 acting on behalf of the general staff had a meeting with the Chairman of the Governing Body,GTBoard (Mr Abdoulie Touray) to express their concerns regarding some management malpractices that they believe were detrimental to the institution and raised the following issues and the Board Chairman promised to take them on board and discuss with other members of the Board.

The following issues were raised with the Chairnan of the Board who was later removed by the Honourable minister in what they believe was triggered by their visit to his office and for him being receptive to them.
The GTBoard they said had plans to develop eco-tourism in rural communities with the goal of decentralizing tourism and creating employment as recommended by the National development plan. The concept for the eco-tourism venture was developed by product development staff GTBoard and the identification of sites for eco-tourism camps were done in collaboration with local government and their technical advisory committee.

The sites identified were the Kunkilng Forest in CRR Sotuma Samba Koi River site in URR, Kiang West national Park in LRR and Bambali in NBR. An engineer was engaged to visit the sites, provide designs and estimates for the construction of the eco-tourism camps that would each have a 20 bed capacity, a restaurant that can seat 50 persons, a reception and 3 craft shops for the community and a 3m by 6m jetty. This was estimated by the engineer to cost 12.5 Million Dalasi excluding VAT.

According to the aggrieved staff, in 2018 bids were invited for the construction of the eco-tourism camps and five companies namely; Mendura Construction, BB Electrical and Construction Company, Peace Enterprise, Lamin Jatta Eco Construction, Santa Yalla Construction and Lerr Group.

1. Mendura Construction presented a bid amount of D12, 121,746.50.

2. BB Electrical presented a bid price of D14, 628,032.80.

3. Peace Enterprise presented a bid amount of D13, 188,075.00.

4. Lamin Jatta Eco Construction presented a bid price of D13, 839,309.00.

5. Santa Yala Construction presented a bid price of D16, 514,888.00.

6. Lerr -Group presented a bid price of D26, 199,667.84.

That the contracts committee under the chairmanship and influence of the Director of Finance decided to award the contract to Lerr Group but this decision was challenged by some concerned staff as there is a difference of D10, 000,000.00.

According to the petitioners, the matter went to the GPPA who advised that another engineer be engaged to give estimates. The two engineering firms, Sphinx Associates and Shekh Mahfoos both agreed that Lerr Group's Bid was too high. Shekh Mahfoos gave a ceiling of D19, 000,000.00 (Nineteen Million Dalasis).

They also said the GPPA in an earlier letter dated 21st December 2018 adviced the GTBoard to divide the five eco lodges into lots and restrict each contractor to one in order to timely complete the projects but that the management decided to give approval for the award of all five contracts to Lerr Group which contradicts their earlier letter.

They further elucidated that that particular letter was signed by one Momodou K. Jallow who had been frequenting the GTBoard office and helping the Director General and Director of Finance in their corrupt practices.

After several complaints from the Director of Product Development Mr. Lamin Fatty that his department is not satisfied with the whole bidding process and the awarding of the contract to one contractor, GTBoard wrote to Lerr Group putting the contract on hold pending the internal review of the bidding process.

That the directors knowing that the concerned staff were right, decided to use the COVID 19 situation to send all staff home and in their absence went ahead and signed a contract according to the Honourable Minister for Tourism's proclamation at the launching of the eco lodges in Sotuma of D97,000,000.00 for the construction of the eco lodges and an advanced payment of D38,500,000 (thirty Eight Million Five· Hundred thousand Dalasis made to Lerr group.

Sir, you will find out that the GTBoard wrote to the contractor to put the contract on hold thus it is expected that if they decide to reactivate the contract there should be a written missive to the contractor to that effect but that was not the case in this matter. The Erstwhile Director General and Director of Finance decided to go ahead and make an advance payment.

"This eco-tourism project for rural communities has been a subject of financial abuse by Director of Finance who is the chairman of the contract committee and the Erstwhile Director General to enrich themselves. According to estimates by previous engineers and bidders, D75, 000,000.(Seventy Five Million Dalasis) would have built and furnish all five eco lodges as planned. We see this action of the director of finance as a gross financial misconduct because the signing of this contract and payment of D35.5 million to Lerr Group from GT Board accounts did not follow proper financial and auditing procedures. The director of finance had advised the contract committee wrongly on the way they have evaluated the eco-tourism projects and awarded the contract to Lerr Group on the basis that this contractor will pre-finance the project only to realise that this is not true, stated the petition.

On the Gambia Tourism Board head Office and other staff matters.

According to the staff in 2014, Gambia Tourism Board entered into a Framework Agreement with Construct Company for the allocation of Land in the TDA (Tourism Development Area) in Fajara what is now the Fajara Water Front. The agreement was for GTBoard to allocate the Land to Construct Company and in return Construct Company to construct a head office complex for Gambia Tourism Board at Kololi next to the Jakarlo Football Field on the Highway to Senegambia now called the Tropics.

The office complex was supposed to house GTBoard and MoTC staff. However, sometime in 2018, when the Honourable Minister for Tourism and Culture; the Permanent Secretary MOTC; the director General GTBoard and the director of finance travelled abroad, they decided from there that GTBoard would no longer occupy the office complex but instead rented where the GTBoard currently is and paying D3,000,000.00 per annum.

This decision they said shocked all GTBoard staff who up to today cannot understand why they are paying such amount on rent when they could have easily moved into tropics complex.

Equally no one could tell if the framework agreement with construct Company still exists and there is rumour that the complex is now leased to Construct Company and the proceeds are shared between the Minister, PS, DG and Director of Finance. It is important for you to be aware that the Director of Finance is the husband of the current Permanent Secretary at the MOTC, and needless to say that this is professionally unethical, abnormal and conflicting in any system of governance.

The aggrieved staff and petitioners further went on to assert that this is exacerbated by the fact that the Director of Finance continued to abuse such by undermining the Director General and frustrating all staff of the institution by denying/delaying their entitlements in the most ruthless and unprofessional manner.

The petitioners also indicated some interference of the Honourable Minister for Tourism and Culture in Land allocation.

"It has also been established that the Honorable Minister has been interfering in the allocation of land within the TDA and has been giving directives to the Director General to implement which contain interventions which has caused the GTBoard to lose revenue in the allocation of prime lands in the TDA as some revenues that the Board should have collected were waived by the Honorable Minister for no justified reasons".

The interferences of the Honorable Minister that have cost the GTBoard some lost in revenue

"1. Waiving of 3% of the 5% levy that Kaijiang Holding Group Ltd. A Letter from MOTC to GTboard directing that 2% of the $750 000 should be taken as TDA deposit fee from the investor and waive the 3% levy.

This means the GTBoard will only receive $300, 000 and will stand to Iose $450, 000. This 5% levy was approved by cabinet and if there should be any reduction on the rates for any investor, it should be tabled at cabinet which we doubt was actually the case in this matter.

2. Honorable Minister has intervened in the allocation of land to MOAB Capital of which they were to pay $200, 000 as 5% TDA deposit fee but failed to pay and have in fact received their lease document which contradicts the land allocation process".

They Finally withdrawn the attention of members to the Honourable Minister's decision to send all GTBoard staff home and put them on half salaries from last month.

"We believe this move was in no way related to COVID 19 as he publicly stated but that he is angry with staff that went to see the board chairman. Some staff of GTBoard have recently been recalled to work and put back on full salaries under the pretext that they are needed in the office but these are mainly staff of the Finance Department and Quahty Control Department."

"Because key technical staff, including research and development staff, auditors, marketing staff and investment department staff who are key in laying out strategies for post COVID and ensuring operational and financial procedures were not recalled. It is apparent that staff that went to complain to the Board chairman are deliberately targeted with intend to make life difficult for them".

The Public Petitions Committee in its first public hearing invited the GPPA to answer some questions regarding this matter and the deputy Director of GPPA Mr. Ebrima Sanyang and Mr. Momodou K. Jallow appeared. However, Momodou K Jallow was informed that he was adversely mentioned by the petitioners and as a result they would want to meet him alone at a separate time. He was released.

The two officials were informed briefly about the petition as well as the mandate of the Committee but they must first take oath or affirmation before the hearing actually started.
The following questions were posed to the deputy director by the members of the Petitions Committee

1. How is Contract committee of the GT Board constituted?

2. What is meant by GPPA compliance; whether the law is followed.

3. What is the basis for the awarding of the contract by the GTBoard?

4. Were there any observations by GPPA on the awarding of the contract?

5. What was the amount the contract was originally awarded and what was the cost ultimately?

6. How many companies made bids and the amounts they advanced?

7. What were the original sites identified and areas accepted and what Criteria was used for the identification?

8. Has the Minister any role to play in the awarding of the contract?

In answering the questions Sanyang said the role of the contract committee as stated in the GPPA Act and actions were in accordance with the Act, as far as he knows.

On the issue of whether the method used to award contracts was GPPA compliant and whether the law was followed, he said he does not think so and further said he had pointed out that at the time of minuting the contract.

Whether there was observation by the GPPA on the contract awarding, he answered in the positive; that they raised so many concerns among them is the bid price and time frame in which to implement the projects.

On the thresh hold advised by the GPPA and the amount the contract was awarded ultimately; Sanyang said the thresh hold stipulated by the GPPA was 19 million but they later came to learn that the GTBoard awarded it to the Lerr Group at 21 million ultimately.

Pressed as to whether in his opinion, it is normal or acceptable for them to award contracts beyond the thresh hold stipulated by the GPPA; he said that should not be and is not proper but that the Act did not mandate them to interfere.

On whether he was aware that some senior staff of the GT Board raised concerns and some of them were punished, Sanyang said he was not aware of that.

He was asked about the number of companies that actually bid for the contracts and the amounts opted; the deputy director named the following companies:

1. Mendura Construction presented a bid amount of D12, 121,746.50.

2. BB Electrical presented a bid amount price of D14, 628,032.80.

3. Peace Enterprise presented a bid amount of D13, 18,075.00.

4. Lamin Jatta Eco Construction presented a bid price of D13, 839,309.00.

5. Santa Yala Construction presented a bid price of D16, 514,888.00.

6. Lerr Group presented a bid price of D26, 199,667.84.

He was further asked whether it is not an anomaly to be noticed considering the fact the difference between the thresh hold of 19 million and the Lerr Group award of 22 million which amounts up to 10 million; that if the difference was say D500,000 or a million, may be one can ignore it but 10 million appears to be too high an amount to be simply ‘noted and filed’; Mr Sanyang said he agreed but said he was just following the director’s instruction to note it and file it.

On whether the minister of Tourism has any role to play in the awarding of contracts and whether he knew if the minister did play a role in this case. Sanyang said since the GTBoard is under the purview of the Ministry, he thinks the minister can play a role but was quick to say that the minister may play a role if invited to provide professional advice only where no one else is available.

Asked if he was aware that an amount of 38.5 Million was advanced to the Lerr Group even though the contract was put on hold and whether the GPPA was notified with the reactivation of the contract; Sanyang agreed and said there should be a notification to that effect and he does not know why it was not done.

He was finally asked if he was aware of the declaration made by the minister on the awarding of the contract in Sotuma; he answered in the positive and said he heard the declaration.

The meeting was adjourned to further notice to invite other key players who played a part in the awarding of this contract and related matters.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone

toubab1020



11602 Posts

Posted - 13 May 2021 :  11:41:13  Show Profile Send toubab1020 a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Snippet from above post by Momodou.:

"The meeting was adjourned to further notice to invite other key players who played a part in the awarding of this contract and related matters."
==========


The allegations referred to in the above are extreamly serious and must be deaalt with quickly since the tourism industry is a main artery in the life blood of Gambia's ability to progress and rid itself of the gigantic Debt burdon that exists today,the engrained call of give me, give me should be relegated to history and let the light shine brightly on the development of Gambia in the future.
The world has moved on

"Simple is good" & I strongly dislike politics. You cannot defend the indefensible.
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toubab1020



11602 Posts

Posted - 17 May 2021 :  14:59:47  Show Profile Send toubab1020 a Private Message  Reply with Quote

==========
https://standard.gm/corruption-allegations-at-gt-board-probed0/

==========
Corruption allegations at GT Board probed
The Standard: MAY 17, 2021

By Tabora Bojang


The Public Petitions Committee of the National Assembly Tuesday launched investigations into allegations of graft implicating senior members of the Gambia Tourism Board, including former director general Abdoulie Hydara.

The probe comes following a petition by concerned GTB staff members alleging widespread “corruption and procurement irregularities” committed in the awards of contracts for the construction of ecotourism camps (lodges.)

In 2018 the GTB rolled out a rural ecotourism project and invited bids for the construction of five eco camps to be built across the five regions of The Gambia.

The Lerr Group, Mendura Construction, BB Electrical & Construction, Peace Enterprise, Lamin Jatta Eco Construction, and Santa Yalla Construction Company took part in the bidding.

The companies made the following offers: Mendura Construction D12,121,746.50; BB Electrical and Construction D14,628,032.80; Peace Enterprise D13, 188,075.00; Lamin Jatta Eco Construction D13,839,309,00; Santa Yalla Construction D16, 514,888.00; and Lerr Group D26, 199,667.84.

The plaintive workers alleged in their petition that Hydara and director of finance Ousainou Senghore who was the chairman of the contracts committee enagaged in “financial abuse” to “enrich themselves” when they awarded the contract to Lerr Group who tendered a bid which was at least D10 million higher than the rest.

The petitioners said they found the matter more bizarre when Tourism Minister Hamat Bah announced at the launch of one of the eco lodges in Sotuma that a total of D97 million was agreed with Lerr Group for the construction of the five lodges with an advanced payment of D38.5 million already made.

“The amounts on the letters from GTBoard, GPPA and the statement of the minister are conflicting and up to date the actual contract signed with Lerr Group has been kept away from the staff. We see this action of the director of finance as a gross financial misconduct because the signing of this contract and payment of D38.5 million to Lerr from GTBoard accounts did not follow proper financial and audit procedures. The director of finance had advised the contracts committee wrongly on the way they have evaluated the ecotourism projects and awarded the contract to Lerr Group on the basis that this contractor will pre-finance the project only to realise that this is not true.”

GPPA’s director of policy and procurement, Ebrima Sanyang who was the first to testify under oath before the parliamentary committee confirmed to lawmakers that there were procurement “violations” in the process.

“We [GPPA] approved D19,424,440.00 based on GTB’s own submissions but the [GTB] contract committee went ahead and signed a contract amounting to D22, 338,105,000 with Lerr Group which was not subjected to GPPA approval,” Sanyang revealed.

He said the authority only became aware of such financial disparities when it received an award notification from the GTB indicating an award of the contract to Lerr Group. “When our director general received this notification he told us to note and file because we can’t do much except noting it in our compliance review exercises as queries.”

Asked why GPPA failed to take any action when it found the irregularities, Sanyang said the authority does not have punitive powers.

“GPPA either reports such violations to the National Assembly or the Auditor General to conduct a more thorough audit exercise on the transaction,” he explained.

However, before the commencement of proceedings, a GPPA official, Momodou K Jallow who accompanied Mr Sanyang to the hearings, was sent out by committee chairman Sunkary Badjie because “he was adversely mentioned by the petitioners”.

They alleged that Jallow had frequented the GTB offices and helped Hydara and Senghore in carrying out “unlawful” and “corrupt” practices.

But Sanyang, who is the immediate boss of Jallow told the probing lawmakers that “submissions to GPPA are addressed to the DG who will minute them to the various offices concerned” and that he was not aware of GPPA officers visiting GTB.

Mr Jallow however strenuously denied any wrongdoing. Talking to The Standard outside the probe hall in his defence, he said he only visited the GTB offices on official missions. “I only went there to audit,” he asserted.

"Simple is good" & I strongly dislike politics. You cannot defend the indefensible.
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Momodou



Denmark
10865 Posts

Posted - 14 Jun 2021 :  09:57:57  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
By Kexx Sanneh

Two witnesses testify before the Petitions Committee, to respond and clarify issues regarding the Gambia Tourism Board’s Petition. Namely Momodou Jallow senior auditor GPPA a and Abdoulie Tambadou, the former Director-General of the Gambia Public Procurement Authority [GPPA] now the MD of social security.

The witnesses appeared before the committee on the Senior employees of the Gambia Tourism Board Petition to the National Assembly petition committee on the allegation that GTBoard and the ministry have not been following the legal guidelines in managing the affairs of the Board; that the Minister has been interfering with the running of the affairs of the Board to the extent that he ordered the transfer of some of them to the places in the provinces where there are no offices and no tourism activities just because they are opposed to his deals, that he and the Board had excluded them in negotiations involving the allocation of contract's for the building of some eco-tourism lodges in the provinces without following the due legal guidelines as stipulated in the GPPA Guidelines land allocation in the TDA area and other underhanded activities.

The petition sends to the National Assembly petition committee by the GTBoard staffs express concerns over the issue of abuse and corruption at The Gambia tourism board. According to the staff for the past year and ha half, there has been outright and open corruption by both the erstwhile director General Mr Abdoulie Hydara and the director of finance and administration Ousamou Senghore.

The Committee summoned the staff GPPA Momodou Jallow to inquire into allegations. Mr Momodou Jalow appeared before and took an oath to speak the truth and nothing but the truth.
The committee asked him to inform the committee, his knowledge about the GT Board contract award for the construction of five eco-lodges across the country.
He started by saying the allegation levelled against him is not true and he has never met or sat with neither the Director-General nor the Finance Director on any of the alleged corrupt practice as indicated in the petition.

He also tasked the committee to launch findings and engage the petitioners, to establish proofs of the allegations against him.
He told the committee that the composition of the contract committee is defined in the GPPA Act and that the committee has been set before him receiving the file regarding the award for the construction of the eco-lodges.
He highlighted the major characteristics of the said contract, noting that the building of the eco-lodges requires special expertise.

He said in reviewing the characteristics, he looked at are the regulations in the Act, in terms of what they have and what they lacked.
He told the committee that some of the submissions of the bidders don’t meet the key issues such as response to the payment term and innovative solutions, building equipment, as well as the experience of the bidders.

He said that some of the bidders also provided only the list, but did not provide evidence and that if a contract is awarded it has to be signed, most preferably wherein a bidder has a certificate of completion, but informed the committee that most of the bidders only provided a list of their past construction works.

He said: “Some of the suppliers did not even have the equipment to show that they can do the work. One of the suppliers provided a sample drawing of the innovative solution, but did not have any payment term and letter of intent”.
He added: “Most of them did not have the key requirements in their submissions. So based on the submissions, we looked at the one who response substantially to the requirements stated in the bidding document”.

He added that they assumed that the bidder who fulfils most of the requirements with and capacity with evidence, be allowed to hold negotiation with the GT Board contract committee, with the involvement of an engineer, who will assist them in the awarding of the contract.
“During my visit for the procurement audit, is the time that one can observe whether the due process has been observed and subsequently write a report. It is the responsibility of the procurement agency to ensure that they have a specialized procurement unit”, he said.

He also told the committee that their responsibility is to review the procurement files, to see if the procurement is done in line with the due process”.
On the removal, reprimand and transfer of some officials to the provinces, as a form of punishment for their objection to the said contract, he told the committee: “I heard something like that but I did not go into detail and find out”.
On his final remark Mr Jallow Momodou K Jallow, an official of the Gambia Public Procurement Authority [GPPA], has requested a formal apology from the Gambia Tourism Board petitioners.

The said petitioners, in their petition submitted to the Committee on Public Petitions, alleged that Jallow had frequented the GTB offices and helped Hydara and Senghore in carrying out “unlawful” and “corrupt” practices.

On his part, the Former Director-General of GPPA also appeared before the Public Petitions Committee and took an oath to speak the truth and not but the truth to the committee.

The second to appear before the committee was Abdoulie Tambadou, the former Director-General of the Gambia Public Procurement Authority [GPPA] now the MD of social security appeared before the Petitions Committee, to respond and clarify issues regarding the Gambia Tourism Board’s Petition.

Tambadou name was mentioned in the Gambia Tourism Board petition, about the GT Board award of contract for the construction of five eco-lodges across the country.
When asked about his knowledge about the contact and function of the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA).

He informed the committee that the functions of the Gambia Public Procurement Authority [GPPA], include regulating the public procurement environment of the Gambia Government.
He said this entails the regulations of all the use of the public funds and that public funds are revenues and monies that pass through the consolidated revenue fund and all loans and grants receive on behalf of the Gambia Government.

The functions of the GPPA is to regulate the procurement of all the institutions who by one way or another utilize those funds through consolidated revenue funds, grants and loans. The overall daily functions of the GPPA, we assist the government in the development of policies and the GPPA is under the Finance Ministry”.
He said the GPPA Act enacted in 2001, then the 2003 regulations, the enactment of the 2014 Act and was followed by the 2015 regulations and also there was the GPPA regulation 2019.

He explained: “The Act requires the authority to ensure that there is a transparent public procurement process. This would require all the agencies that utilized consolidated revenue fund, grants and loans, to ensure their procurement process is transparent”.
He averred: “This is ensured by the developed regulations which require public enterprises, state-owned enterprises and other government agencies, to ensure inter alia advertise and threshold in tendering in the various types of procurements”.
He told the committee that the GPPA was aware of the process of the awarding of the procurement of the works of the eco-lodges of the GT Board.

He said that GT Board wrote to the GPPA for the procurement of the five eco-lodges across the country and that the tendered was published in the newspapers and those companies sent their bids and an evaluation was sent to the GPPA for approval.
He said: “We looked at the reports and detected some deficiencies. One of such deficiencies was that they did not provide us with the evidence that they used a civil engineering firm in the design of their requirements and to assist them in the evaluation of the report”.
He said that that was the main deficiency that they detected and they rejected the recommendations, and among other things, they requested to them to carry out the requirements of ensuring that an independent civil supervision firm is involved in the evaluation.

Tambadou denied that he did not direct to ‘note and file’ the increment of the contract bid from D19 million to D22 million, and as such requested the committee to provide him with the letter wherein such claim is stated, adding that ‘note and file’ are not approved by the GPPA.

He said that the award bid is prepared by the procured organization and that the award bid for the construction of the five Eco-lodges was prepared by the GT Board.

On whether the publication of the contract award on the Newspapers is a good practice or a statutory requirement, the erstwhile Director-General of the GPPA responded that it is a statutory requirement in the GPPA regulation, but due to urgent challenges, the component of the warding contract is not being enforced.

“Have you seen the publication of the said award on the Newspapers?” asked the committee
He said: “I have not seen the publication of the GT Board contract award on the Newspapers. When they applied to us in 2018 to award, we advised them that we will not approve and we requested them to include an engineering firm. This aims to improve competitiveness in the process and value for money”.

He clarified: “Definitely I was not aware of the award more than the D19.4 million. The GPPA should approve and the Act allows that it is possible that you go some stages and there are major changes. However, there is a process that you go through. But ‘note and file’ is not approval”.

He also clarified: “No Minister has ever called me on this contract award. If it happened I would have disclosed it. The reason why it took us nine months and that we requested the inclusion of a supervision engineering firm. All these aim to ensure that the requirements are specified and that there is value for money in the delivery”.

On whether he was aware that the Finance Director was part of the GT Board Contract Committee, Tambadou replied: “The act does not say that the Finance Director should not be part of the special procurement for the contract committee. What we ensure is that there are members nominated and approve by the Managing Director or Director-General, a minimum of 3 or 5 members as the contract committee”.

He said the Act would not state the designations of a member of the contract committee and that it is the Managing Director or the Director-General to ensure that there is a reasonable spread of specialities in the contract committee, but the Act does not state who should and should not be part of the contract committee.
On the removal and transfer of some officials to the various places in the provinces of the GT Board as a form of punishment, due to their objection to the contract award process, he said that he was not aware of transferring some officials to the provinces.

The committee consists of Hon.Sunkary Badjie, Hon.Sanna Jawara, Hon. Fatoumatta Jawara, Hon. Ndey Yassi Secka, Hon. Suwaibou Touray, Hon. Alhagie Jawara and Hon. Lamin Conta

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



Denmark
10865 Posts

Posted - 24 Jan 2022 :  14:33:04  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
ASSEMBLY SUMMONS HAMAT BAH OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS AT GTBOARD

The Standard: JANUARY 24, 2022

By Tabora Bojang



https://standard.gm/gambia-news/assembly-summons-hamat-bah-over-corruption-allegations-at-gtboard/

The National Assembly Public Petition Committee has summoned Tourism Minister Hamat Bah to report today as part of their investigations into allegations of corruption at the Gambia Tourism Board. The National Assembly committee launched an enquiry following a petition by staff accusing the minister, the former director general and the finance director of various corrupt practices, including an award of contract for the construction of 5 eco-tourism lodges.

Minister Bah is expected to appear before the committee chaired by Foni Berefet NAM Sunkary Badjie this morning.


A former GTB director general, Abdoulie Hydara is also expected to testify.

The officials will be asked to explain themselves with regard to the corruption allegations made in the contract process, wrongful land allocations within the TDA and abuse of power among others.

According to the workers, in their petition seen by The Standard, the board in 2018 invited bids for the construction of these lodges to be built across the regions and five companies namely; Lerr Group, Mendura Construction, BB Electrical & Construction, Peace Enterprise, Lamin Jatta Eco Construction, and Santa Yalla Construction Company took part in the bidding.


However, the petitioners alleged that the GT Board former director general Abdoulie Hydara and former director of finance Ousainou Senghore (now GIEPA’s CEO) engaged in “financial abuse” to “enrich themselves” when they awarded the contract to Lerr Group, which tendered at least D10 million higher than the rest of the bidders.

They further alleged that following a mass resistance against the awarding of the contract to Lerr Group, DG Hydara and finance director Senghore, aided by Minister Bah and his permanent secretary, Codou Jabang Senghore, used the Covid-19 situation to send the staff home with a salary cut and, in their absence, subsequently signed the contract with Lerr Group.

They also accused Minister Hamat Bah of unilaterally removing the board chairman, Abdoulie [Bax] Touray following his reception of the aggrieved staff’s allegations promising to look into them.

The staff further charged that they were surprised to hear Minister Bah announce at the launch of one of the Eco lodges in Sotuma that a total of D97 million was agreed with Lerr Group for the construction of the 5 lodges with an advanced payment of D38.5 million already made.

“The amounts on the letters from GTBoard, GPPA and the statement of the minister are conflicting and up to date, the actual contract signed with Lerr Group has been kept away from the staff. We see this action of the director of finance as gross financial misconduct because the signing of this contract and payment of D38.5 million to Lerr from GTBoard accounts did not follow proper financial and audit procedures. The director of finance had advised the contracts committee wrongly on the way they have evaluated the ecotourism projects and awarded the contract to Lerr Group on the basis that this contractor will pre-finance the project only to realise that this is not true,” the petitioners alleged.

On other allegations of corruption, the staff also accused Minister Bah of ‘dubiously’ cancelling out a contract agreement made in 2014 between the GT Board and Construct Company Limited.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



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Posted - 25 Jan 2022 :  13:39:39  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Assembly receives more testimony on GTBoard corruption allegations

The Standard: JANUARY 25, 2022

By Tabora Bojang


https://standard.gm/gambia-news/assembly-receives-more-testimony-on-gtboard-corruption-allegations/


The National Assembly Petition Committee investigating allegations of corruption at the GTBoard against Tourism Minister Hamat Bah and senior members of the board and the Ministry continued its sitting yesterday. The committee has summoned Minister Bah, who was due to appear yesterday, but a source close to the committee said they instead will continue with the testimony of former minister Benjamin Roberts who could not complete his testimony the other day. The assembly committee is probing allegations of graft reported by staff of the GT Board implicating former senior officials of the GT Board, the current Tourism Minister Hamat Bah and the permanent secretary at the Ministry Codou Jabang- Senghore.

According to the staff petition, the GTBoard had entered into an agreement with Construct Company Limited in 2014 for them to be allocated land and in turn they will construct an office complex for the GTB and the Ministry of Tourism at Kololi.


The staff further alleged that in 2018, when the Minister, the PS, director general and finance director of GTB travelled abroad, they decided that GTBoard would no longer occupy the complex and instead rented a place that it is currently housing the GTBoard at D3 million per annum. Continuing his testimony, Mr Roberts told the Committee that the contract agreement made between the GT Board and Construct Company Limited for the construction of an office complex was part of a public private partnership has been overcome by circumstances, and that the agreement may no longer be valid because what it provides for is not what is obtained on the ground today.

Roberts, who also once served as the director general of the Gambia Tourism Board, told the committee that the agreement was initiated during his time as the GT Board Director and later Minister of Tourism and Culture, adding that until his departure in January 2017, the contract was running smoothly.

He said GTBoard had agreed with the investor that they will give him land that will accommodate the office and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture.

According to him the agreement was premised on built, operate and transfer initiative.

“It was agreed with the investor that he was going to operate the complex for a period of 35 years after which it should be given to the Gambia Tourism Board to manage and own. Also, during the 35 years period GTB was going to make up to $750,000 from operational licence charges on businesses that will be operating under the Tropic Complex.”

Roberts noted that the deal was advantageous since it was going to save the GT-Board in terms of rents it was paying for its office. Asked whether the contract has been implemented as per the agreement with the investor, Roberts asserted that it was not implemented to the effect of the terms of the deal.

Mr Roberts further disclosed that the former GT Board DG Abdoulie Hydara had at some point informed him that both the GT Board and Ministry are “thinking of coming out of the agreement” because of certain complexities with the building.

“He [Hydara] informed me that the project was overcome by circumstances and it is unlikely that the GT Board will occupy the complex as its office,” Roberts told the Assembly petition committee.

He revealed that after the inauguration of the complex by the minister of tourism Hamat Bah last month, it was clear to all that both the GT Board and the Ministry of Tourism have not occupied the Complex.

“I don’t have any details as to why they opted out of the agreement,” he added. Asked if Construct Limited profited more from the agreement at the expense of GTB and the Ministry, he replied: “I do not know if this contract is still the existing contract or there is another agreement in place. This [old] agreement may no longer be valid because what it provides is not what is on the ground. If there has been a new agreement it needs to be compared to the old agreement and information can now be made as to whether the contractor has profited at the expense of the GT Board. When we conceived this contract, we had undertaken every step as required by the Board of Directors to ensure that we are not at the losing end. This was why we provided 35 years lease term to give the contractor the opportunity to recover his investment and at the end of the 35 years, GTB was supposed to fully own the complex as well as make a whooping $750,000 profit,” Benjamin explained.

The sittings continue with current Minister Hamat Bah among others expected to testify in the coming days.

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



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Posted - 27 Jan 2022 :  12:06:58  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Ex-GTboard DG says minister instructed change of contract with Construct Company

The Standard: JANUARY 27, 2022

By Tabora Bojang

https://standard.gm/gambia-news/ex-gtboard-dg-says-minister-instructed-change-of-contract-with-construct-company/

The former director general of the Gambia Tourism Board, Abdoulie Hydara has told the National Assembly Public Petitions Committee probing corruption allegations at the GTB that Tourism Minister Hamat Bah instructed him and his management to renegotiate a contract agreement signed between GT Board and Construct Company Limited for the construction of offices for the two institutions. Testifying via a video link from Nigeria, Mr. Hydara said the deal with Construct Company Limited was signed in 2014 by his predecessor and stipulates that the company will be allocated land at the Fajara sea front in exchange for them to construct an office complex for the GTB and the Ministry of Tourism and Culture. The agreement stipulates that Construct Limited owned by Fara Shamz will build and operate the complex called Tropics for 35 years after which it will be owned and managed by the GT Board.

However, the plaintiff GTB workers alleged in their petition that the deal was scrapped by Minister Hamat Bah, Permanent Secretary Codou Jabang Senghore, Finance Director Ousainu Senghore and Director General Abdoulie Hydara in 2018 when they travelled abroad and instead rented an office for the GT Board costing D3 million every year while alleging that proceeds for the rentals at the Tropics are shared among the quartet.


Responding to questions as to why the GT Board failed to occupy the Tropic Complex as agreed with Construct Limited, Hydara who now works for the Gambian Embassy in Nigeria, said the Board did not relocate as per the agreement because another contract was signed in 2018 under the backing of Minister Bah which renders the previous agreement “null and void.”

“This [request to abandon the old agreement] was a policy pronunciation from the Minister of Tourism and Culture in 2018. He [the minister] believes the arrangement for GT Board to be at the Tropic Complex was not the best arrangement and we want a change. As a result, he convened us to a meeting and said that we need to renegotiate the contract. When that was done, we had no other option but to take it to the Board of Directors for consideration and approval and we [ the management] were given the approval to proceed as the Minster alluded to,” Hydara revealed.

He said this resulted in discussions with Mr. Fara Shamz, the proprietor of Construct Limited for a new deal.


“But these discussions were very very difficult because the contractor had gone very far in terms of executing the first agreement,” he disclosed.

Hydara said Minister Bah was convinced that the office was not fit to serve the “corporate interest” of the GT Board. He said as per the new agreement, Construct Limited would build a new 2000 square metre office complex for the GT Board at a new location, while the contractor takes charge of the Tropics, all its offices and collection of rentals with a 50-year lease period.

“But we also agreed that he [contractor] will be annually contributing D900,000 towards the payment of GT Board office rentals until the construction of the new office at the [Palma Rima] area is completed and handed over to the GT Board,” former DG Hydara added. Hydara was appointed director general of the GT Board in 2015 and served until May 2020. The NAM for Wuli East and member of the committee, Suwaibu Touray asked the witness to explain if it was better for GT Board to maintain the old contract instead of going for a new deal as proposed by the minister. Hydara said he agrees with the minister for the GT Board to have its own sovereign office to avoid compromising its regulatory mandate. In support of the Minister’s proposal for a new deal, Hydara charged: “The contract was beautiful with good financial benefits but I think it is more than that: the GT Board has a mandate and that mandate was not only to go into financial negotiations. The contract did not look at the regulatory aspects of the GT Board; it only concentrated on GT Board having its own offices, avoid rental payments and take ownership of the whole Tropics complex but what about other qualitative analysis such as the mandate of the GT Board and that is to market, promote and manage the tourism industry. GT Board is a regulator and it cannot be seen as venturing into business because that will compromise the mandate of enforcing, marketing, regulating and promoting tourism. It has other means of earning revenue to maintain its marketing and other programs,” Hydara said.

He said the GTB cannot be housed in a business entity with restaurants, supermarkets and tourist centres. “It will lose its sovereignty. Furthermore, the structure of the complex is not fit for office purposes. So when the minister announced a renegotiation, I think it was not a bad idea to have a separate identity for the GTB to focus on rebranding and increasing tourist arrivals,” he said. Asked what criteria were used before the decision for them to abandon the Tropics and renegotiate a new deal, he replied: “There was no cost benefit analysis for the new agreement. Our assessment was a qualitative one but I cannot recollect any cost benefit analysis.”

A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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Momodou



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Posted - 17 Feb 2022 :  22:53:32  Show Profile Send Momodou a Private Message  Reply with Quote
APOLOGY
The Standard: FEBRUARY 17, 2022


https://standard.gm/gambia-news/apology/

Publisher The Standard newspaper and reporter Tabora Bojang hereby unreservedly apologise to Mr Hamat Bah, the Minister of Tourism and Culture for the publication of the article titled “Assembly Summons Hamat Bah Over Corruption Allegations At GT Board” on 24th January 2022.

The source of information that Minister Bah was summoned turned out to be false. We also apologise to Minister Bah for reporting that acting in complot with his permanent secretary, he used the Covid-19 situation to send the staff home and in their absence signed a contract for the eco-lodges; and that he unilaterally removed the GT Board chairman following the latter’s reception of aggrieved staff.

All these allegations may have been implied in the allegations contained in the petition submitted to the National Assembly Select Committee on Tourism by the aggrieved staff of GT Board but they have not been explicitly stated as implied in the article and Minister Bah through his lawyers has expressed his distress at the publication.

We unreservedly apologise to Minister Bah for any inconvenience the said publication may have caused him and assure him that the publication was not done with malice or ill-will against his person.


quote:
Originally posted by Momodou

ASSEMBLY SUMMONS HAMAT BAH OVER CORRUPTION ALLEGATIONS AT GTBOARD

The Standard: JANUARY 24, 2022

By Tabora Bojang



https://standard.gm/gambia-news/assembly-summons-hamat-bah-over-corruption-allegations-at-gtboard/

The National Assembly Public Petition Committee has summoned Tourism Minister Hamat Bah to report today as part of their investigations into allegations of corruption at the Gambia Tourism Board. The National Assembly committee launched an enquiry following a petition by staff accusing the minister, the former director general and the finance director of various corrupt practices, including an award of contract for the construction of 5 eco-tourism lodges.

Minister Bah is expected to appear before the committee chaired by Foni Berefet NAM Sunkary Badjie this morning.


A former GTB director general, Abdoulie Hydara is also expected to testify.

The officials will be asked to explain themselves with regard to the corruption allegations made in the contract process, wrongful land allocations within the TDA and abuse of power among others.

According to the workers, in their petition seen by The Standard, the board in 2018 invited bids for the construction of these lodges to be built across the regions and five companies namely; Lerr Group, Mendura Construction, BB Electrical & Construction, Peace Enterprise, Lamin Jatta Eco Construction, and Santa Yalla Construction Company took part in the bidding.


However, the petitioners alleged that the GT Board former director general Abdoulie Hydara and former director of finance Ousainou Senghore (now GIEPA’s CEO) engaged in “financial abuse” to “enrich themselves” when they awarded the contract to Lerr Group, which tendered at least D10 million higher than the rest of the bidders.

They further alleged that following a mass resistance against the awarding of the contract to Lerr Group, DG Hydara and finance director Senghore, aided by Minister Bah and his permanent secretary, Codou Jabang Senghore, used the Covid-19 situation to send the staff home with a salary cut and, in their absence, subsequently signed the contract with Lerr Group.

They also accused Minister Hamat Bah of unilaterally removing the board chairman, Abdoulie [Bax] Touray following his reception of the aggrieved staff’s allegations promising to look into them.

The staff further charged that they were surprised to hear Minister Bah announce at the launch of one of the Eco lodges in Sotuma that a total of D97 million was agreed with Lerr Group for the construction of the 5 lodges with an advanced payment of D38.5 million already made.

“The amounts on the letters from GTBoard, GPPA and the statement of the minister are conflicting and up to date, the actual contract signed with Lerr Group has been kept away from the staff. We see this action of the director of finance as gross financial misconduct because the signing of this contract and payment of D38.5 million to Lerr from GTBoard accounts did not follow proper financial and audit procedures. The director of finance had advised the contracts committee wrongly on the way they have evaluated the ecotourism projects and awarded the contract to Lerr Group on the basis that this contractor will pre-finance the project only to realise that this is not true,” the petitioners alleged.

On other allegations of corruption, the staff also accused Minister Bah of ‘dubiously’ cancelling out a contract agreement made in 2014 between the GT Board and Construct Company Limited.


A clear conscience fears no accusation - proverb from Sierra Leone
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