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GPA finance director ends testimony in ex-directors’ trial

Oct 9, 2013, 9:11 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

The current director of finance at the Gambia Ports Authority, Tamsir Sillah, yesterday concluded his testimony, as the fourth prosecution witness in the ongoing trial involving two former GPA directors at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Lamin Mbye.

Hali Abdoulie Gai, former GPA director of finance and Abdoulie Tambedou, the institution’s former managing director, are being tried under a five-count indictment which included two counts of neglect of official duty, and three counts of disobedience of statutory orders.

Continuing his testimony, Mr. Sillah told the court that he recognised both accused persons, as they at one time worked for the Gambia Ports Authority.

He said that some time in July 2010, he was called at the police headquarters in Banjul to give information regarding the one hundred and fifty million dalasis loan from the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSFHC) to the Gambia Ports Authority, as well as the thirty million dalasis loan given by the SSHFC to the GPA.

Mr Sillah told the court that, as the director of finance, he also doubles as the chairman of the GPA procurement committee.

He said when bids are raised for a tender or there is a request for quotations, the bids are submitted to the procurement committee, specifically to the chairman depending on the amount involved.

Sillah added that the procurement committee calculates the bids and forms an ad hoc committee, adding that when the amount involved is quite large, such as one million dalasis and above or if the procurement process involved was technical in nature, they normally form an ad hoc committee.

According to the witness, it was the responsibility of the chairman to set up the said committee, and at the end of the procurement process, an evaluation report was submitted to the chairman of the procurement committee.

He stated that the evaluation report was also tabled before the procurement committee for them to deliberate on the report, and based on their recommendations they would endorse and adopt the report.

Looking at the defence exhibit 10, the witness informed the court that it was addressed to the then Managing Director of GPA (the 2nd accused person).

He said the Gambia Ferry Services had their own procurement committee and, therefore, the procurement ad hoc committee was not set up by the GPA.

“The procurement report/memo was signed by these gentlemen: A. Camara, I. Wadda and F. Jarjue. By this submission, I did not know the ad hoc committee,” said Sillah.

Under cross-examination by defence counsel Ebrima Jah, who asked the witness whether he could remember when Mr. Gai took office as the acting Managing Director of the GPA, Sillah said it was in April 2011.

Asked when he was removed, the witness said Gai was removed on 27 April 2011.

“He was, therefore, less than a month as acting Managing Director?” counsel asked.

“Yes” replied the witness.

At this juncture, counsel asked the witness to look at defence exhibit 12, and asked whether it was correct to say that the GPA board authorized the payment of one million, one hundred and seventy thousand Euros.

PW4 responded that the submission was from the Managing Director of GPA to acting Director of Finance, and there was a board resolution attached for the said money to finance the Gallia Ferries.

“You will also agree with me that by the board authorizing the payment, it is not the first accused that authorized payments,” asked counsel. The witness responded that as far as the document was concern, this was correct.

He added that at the time of the procurement processes, the first accused was no longer acting Managing Director.

When asked by Lawyer Lamin S. Camara whether the procurement ad hoc committee was different from the procurement sub-committee, the witness said “at my level they are the same.”

He added that he would not know whether they are the same at the level of the ferries.

PW4 finally testified that he knows that all public enterprises are supposed to have procurement committees.

Hearing continues on 10 October 2013.