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More testimonies in former GPA directors’ trial

Nov 22, 2013, 10:14 AM | Article By: Bakary Samateh

More testimonies continued to be rendered in the trial involving two former directors of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), Hali Abdoulie Gai, former GPA director of finance, and Abdoulie Tambedou, the institution’s former managing director, at the Banjul Magistrates’ Court, before senior Magistrate Lamin Mbai.

The two former GPA senior officials are being tried under a five-count indictment which includes two counts of neglect of official duty, and three counts of disobedience of statutory orders.

The recent proceedings showed the testimony of one Ismaila Wada, deputy finance director at the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), who told the court that he resides in Cape Point, Bakau, in the Kanifing Municipal Council.

Wada said he did not know much about the D150 million being given to the GPA by the Social Security and Housing Finance Corporation (SSHFC) for efficient ferry services.

He revealed that he knew something about the D30 million which was given to the port by the SSHFC for the procurement of ferry engines and other parts.

Designated as the sixth prosecution witness (PW6), Mr Wada told the court that out of D30 million, D12 million was refunded to the GPA for hull machinery and about D12 million was spent whilst about D4 million was also spent at the Gambia Revenue Authority for customs duty.

He added that D1,900,000 was spent for the procurement of spare parts and a final payment of D1,435,000 was spent for procurement of three vehicles and some plans and equipment from “BASSTE NADAM”, a German construction company.

The D30 million was saved at Trust Bank Limited and the purpose of the account was to procure parts of the old ferry, he said.

He added that during his time as deputy director of finance, sometimes if they needed to purchase certain things, they would need an approval from either the finance director or the managing director.

The said documents which the port wrote to the bank for transfer of funds were shown to the witness and he recognised them, before they were tendered and marked as exhibits.

Asked by the state counsel, Jaiteh, who formed the procurement committee at the Gambia Ports Authority, Wada told the court it was set up by the senior management of the GPA, for which he was the chairman.

“The senior management team travelled to Pakaliba village to inspect the vehicles and other plans and equipment, which I was part of, and upon our return, we made the recommendation to the managing director and he endorsed it,” Mr Wada explained.

The money allocated for the vehicles was D300,000, and plans and other equipment was D600,000, he said, noting that any purchase below D500,000 has to be handled internally without seeking approval from the Gambia Public Procurement Authority (GPPA).

“Above this amount, we will need the approval of GPPA,” he added.

He stated that if it was D500,000, the process normally would start with the departmental registration and signed by the head of that particular department.

In this case, he continued, he was never aware of any approval being sought from the GPPA for the procurement.

Testifying under cross-examination by defence counsel E. Jah, who asked him whether the first accused was involved in the procurement process, Wada replied that the first accused was never involved in the procurement process.

The case was then adjourned till 28 November 2013 for cross-examination.