Editorial: President Jammeh’s Dodgy Deals Exposed

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Where Is The Missing Six Million Ferry Euros.

Jammeh at the inauguration of the two ferries

Jammeh at the inauguration of the two ferries

The Greek Junks named Kansala and Aljamdu ferries

The Greek Junks named Kansala and Aljamdu ferries

The Gambia’s President Yahya Jammeh on 22 July 2011, inaugurated two supposedly new ferries named Kansala and Aljamdu, at an event marking the 17th anniversary of the July 22nd military takeover of 1994. The President and his government, at the time, claimed to have procured the two ferries at the cost of 6,345,000.00 (Six Million, Three Hundred and Forty Five Thousand) Euros.

However, it has emerged that the President’s supposedly new ferries were actually 27 years old junks collected from the Greek shipyard. As if that was not enough, the ferries were further not bought by the government as claimed “but sent to Banjul on a contract basis, which the Gambia government were supposed to benefit 45% of the profit share, whilst the Greek company called Gallia Holdings benefit 55% profit share”; according to sources of the Kibaaro News Manager, Bamba Serigne Mass.

The revelations came in the Kibaaro Manager’s popular radio programme called ‘Dialogue with the President’ yesterday, Thursday, 13 February 2014. Mr Mass’ sources further exposed the dodgy arrangements behind the procurement of the Greek Junks known in the Gambia as Kansala and Aljamdu ferries.

On 23 July 2011, the President’s State House website, www.statehouse.gm announced the procurement of the Greek Junks as follows:

The President, His Excellency Sheikh Professor Alhaji  Dr. Yahya Jammeh, as part of celebrations marking the 17th Anniversary of the July, 22nd Revolution, Saturday commissioned a fleet of new ferries that will take over service at the Banjul/Barra crossing. “Aljamdu” and “Kansala”, were acquired by Government at the tune of €6, 345, 000 and their operations are entrusted to a new management headed by an official of the Greek firm, Gallia Holdings Ltd. The company accounts for 55% of the shares on both ferries.

Story by Abdou Njie:
It is the 21st Century and the need for first class service is all the eminent. The Transportation industry is again the target, with The Gambia’s ferry services, which has of late, been criticized for inefficient operations, receiving a major government intervention. The fleet, commissioned by the President cost a fortune, but as he toured it inside out there was at least a general consensus that they indeed worth the investment. “Aljamdu” and “Kansala”, are their adopted names and have come as major relieve to not only passengers plying the river crossing but also to the Gambian team, currently being schooled by their Greek counterparts.”

However, what has been described above as 21st Century first class service, was in fact 19th Century transportation junks, which President Jammeh and his government claimed to have wasted 6,345,000 Euros on. But that is only; if one buys their claim that they in fact spent the said amount on the procurement.

According to Mr Mass, the Gallia Holdings spent nearly 40 million Dollars to renovate the two ferries but could not salvage the junks. “My research revealed that despite the Greek Company spending 40 Million Dollars, it could not save the ferries. To make matters worse, President jammeh and his government are stuck in the contract because the terms of the contract according to my informants at the Gambia Ports Authority revealed that the Gambia would pay the Greek Company nearly $60 million, if they should back out of the deal at present”, Mr Mass disclosed, blaming it on the sickening and confused brain of Yahya Jammeh.

He chided that “these are the prices paid when a leader who knows nothing refuses to seek advice in running a nation”. He explained that the constant failures of the ferries are now giving headache to President Jammeh and his confused followers within the maritime industry. Who he described have no “knowledge and experience in maritime operations take their direct orders from President Jammeh through Momodou Lamin Gibba, who knows nothing whatsoever about maritime affairs”; he concluded.

The multi dollar question now is; where is the 6,345,000 Euros, which was supposedly spent on the procurement of the Greek Junks.

The answer according to the Gambian prosecutor lies within the knowledge of two former Managing Directors of the Gambia Ports Authority, Mr. Hali Abdoulie Gai, former Acting GPA Managing Director and Mr. Abdoulie Tambedou, former Managing Director of the same institution, who are both currently being tried for the same.

The charge sheet in their case alleged that the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA) was granted the sum of D150,000,000 (One Hundred and Fifty Million Dalasi) by the Social Security Housing and Finance Corporation (SSHFC) to procure new ferries and D30,000,000 (Thirty Million Dalasi) to buy engines for the old ferries.

The two men are accused of embezzling the whole of the D150, 000,000 under President Jammeh’s watch. During one of the hearings of the case, on 18 September 2013, Chief Inspector Amadou Kujabi of the Gambia Police, a prosecution witness in the case stated the followings about what led to their investigation of the case, as reported by Foroyaa Newspaper on 19 September 2013:

“According to the witness, on the 15th of January 2013, he received instructions from his OC (Officer Commanding) to investigate a loan of the above stated amounts granted to GPA by SSHFC and that during the investigations of this case, the investigating panel had a letter from Social Security addressed to the Inspector General of Police. The letter emanating from SSHFC dated 16th January, 2013 and signed by the Director of Finance was admitted in evidence and marked as exhibit when no objection was raised by the defence on its admissibility. PW3 said according to GPA management, the one hundred and fifty million dalasi was insufficient to buy ferries and that the money was save in a fix deposit account until at such time when they were able to raise additional funds to supplement the whole sum. He said in 2011, the Gambia Government signed a joint venture agreement with a Greek Investor call Galli Company Limited to bring two ferries to the Gambia and that according to the agreement for each of the ferries, the Gambia Government holds a share of 45% and are required to contribute the sum towards the venture. He said during the tenure of the first accused as GPA Acting Managing Director, he received a letter from the office of the President urging the GPA to take up the government stake in the venture and contribute same percentage as required by government, adding that the GPA took up the government stake.”

What is interesting about the above testament is his reference to the letter from the President’s office urging the then acting Managing Director to take up the government’s stake.

The State Prosecutor called many other witnesses to attest to their case against the two accused, but the whole show could not make sense to even a little boy in the village. It therefore came as no surprise that the lawyers for the accused persons, Mr Ebrima Jah and Lamin S, Camara, alongside Edward Singhateh, advised their clients to make a no case to answer submissions on 20 January 2014. The case was set for ruling on 30 January 2014, but no news was heard thereafter. It will be interesting to know what decision Magistrate Lamin Mbaye of Banjul Magistrates decides in the case, but it will come as no surprise, if he too commits another miscarriage of justice in the Gambia.

Simply because, the case should not have been brought to court in the first place. The government through its own credible media outlet, the State House website at www.statehouse.gm confirmed on 23 July 2011 that they paid the 6,345,000 Euros to the Greek company to procure the two ferries. The ferries were procured and arrived in Banjul and inaugurated by President Jammeh on 22 July 2011. It should then be a surprise to all that some 3 years later, the Government is questioning the whereabouts of the said funds. The only answer that ought to be given is that the money has been paid to the Greek Company by the President’s Office.

However, the truth that is proving hard to be disguised by the Gambian President and his crony prosecutor, is that the D150,000,000 funds have been embezzled by President Jammeh himself. The money was taken from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation, on the pretext that they are purchasing two new ferries from Greece. In reality, no new ferries were purchased, but some old Junks fetched from the Greece Shipyards feigned as new ferries. Secondly, the ferries were never bought but brought to the Gambia in a joint business scam between Gallia Holdings and the Gambia government. Otherwise why would a genuine company in Greece bring junk ferries to the Gambia with the hope of gaining profit from its business?

It’s all a scam and our President is at the head of it!

Dialogue with the President continues with Bamba Serigne Mass every Thursdays on Kibaaro Radio.

the attachments to this post:

New Banjul-Barra Ferries

Jammeh at the ceremony

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