Jammeh refused to do business with reputable companies

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Momodou B. Jallow, former managing director of NAWEC, yesterday told the Janneh Commission that the former president, Yahya Jammeh, had never wanted to do business with reputable companies.

He reappeared before the commission in connection to issues 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; adding that they were told by Mr. Bazzi that they should refund the cost of the discount but he told him that it was not the responsibility of NAWEC.

According to him, the IPP was commissioned before he became the MD of NAWEC, noting that they were not given enough money to pay for the IPP. He testified that with the IPP, there was a drastic improvement on electricity but all the money was going to help the IPP, further stating that the transmission and distribution network was not good, and that financially, it was not good for NAWEC in connection to the IPP.

At this juncture, Counsel Bensouda put it to him that when the contract was signed in 2007, the mark-up was 17%, and Mr. Jallow responded that he was not aware of the 3% mark-up. However, he told the commission 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.

Mr. 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 any charges and also keep the fuel at the Mandinary depot as well.

Mrs. Bensouda at this juncture put it to him that there was a $52 per metric tonne difference, and asked him why. In response, he 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, and also considering the circumstances at the time.

At this juncture, Commissioner Saine put it to him that the company generated electricity loss, and he responded that there was 33% loss. He further adduced that the generators at Brikama were not good ones because they were second-hand generators. He added that they changed the transformers to make sure that they reduce the loss.

According to him, 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, and he responded that there was no tender for the IPP which was wrong. He said the former president was the problem.

Mr. Jallow adduced that the former president was enslaving people; adding that the losses could have been higher. He said if one is not given the opportunity to transform his/her organisation, there is no way it is possible even if the individual 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 go to a meeting at the Ministry of Finance, and upon arrival, he found some directors at the office whom he joined.

According to him, Mr. 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 should be funded by SSHFC.

Mr. 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, and 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, he revealed to the commission that when he was leaving, the process was still on and the generators were never commissioned. He said that up to the time he was removed in 2009, there was a capacity charge.

Dwelling on the Venezuela loan, he stated that there was a loan of $22,000,000 from Bandesh Bank, noting that they presented a project document to secure the said loan to improve the transmission and distribution of electricity within the Greater Banjul Area.

Mr. Jallow informed the commission that over 90% was won by GTG while the remaining percentage was won by some Gambian companies and that of Bazziz’s associates.

He further stated 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; adding that there were outstanding invoices. 

The former energy company boss revealed that he was present when the loan agreement was being signed in Venezuela but he did not sign it, further stating that his deputy, Mrs. Sira Wally Ndow-Njie, represented NAWEC and one Mustapha Colley 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, and that the bidders included a Nigerian company.

He 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).

He adduced that he was removed before the implementation started. He was asked whether there were any projects that the former president was involved. He answered that there was a 10 mega watt project and Mr. Bazzi wanted to offer 3 mega watt sets, as he told him that this was what the former president had told him, and the minister of Finance had confirmed this to him (Mr. Jallow).

He indicated that he told the minister of Finance that the 10 mega watt was to be substituted with the 3 mega watt sets but the minister told him that this was not possible, further stating that there were a lot of interference in the project and this was why the project was not completed.

Mr. 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. He disclosed 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 him, the former president framed him that he wanted to poison him, noting that he had to face a high level panel of investigators, who wanted to implicate him in the poisoning of the former president. He added that it was a very scaring time that they went through.

 Documents relating to 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, and in response, he said he could not remember. He put it to him that NAWEC was not successful because of debt of money, materials and electricity itself. Mr. Jallow responded in the affirmative.

Further challenged, the chairman of the commission told him that there was bad network of transmission and distribution which also affected NAWEC’s profitability. He was also told that inefficient management of fuel and spare parts also contributed. He then responded in the positive.

Mr. Jallow acknowledged that central and local government, as well as former president and Mr. Bazzi’s interference, also contributed to the failure of NAWEC.

Mr. Nani Juwara, deputy managing director of NAWEC, testified on free electricity allocated within the Foni, as directed by the former president. He also answered questions relating to Aqua Company operations in the country.  

Sitting continues on Monday.     

Author: Dawda Faye