‘GPA Spent D150M to Build Platforms for Aljamdou, Kansala Ferries’- Ousman Jobarteh

By Mamadou Dem

 Mr. Ousman Jobarteh, Deputy Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), yesterday revealed to the ‘Janneh’ Commission of Enquiry that the extension cost for the landing platforms for Banjul and Barra Terminal for Aljamdou and Kansala ferries and other landing sites, amounted to the sum of D150, 000,000.00.

According to the witness, the sum of $2, 431,000.00 was the contract awarded to Michela Construction for the extension of the landing platforms at the GPA ferry terminals. He said the platform built at the Banjul and Barra terminal for the Aljamdou and Kansala Ferries, cost the GPA D8, 000,000.00 while that of Bambatenda and Yellitenda cost D70, 000,000.00

Correspondence from the office of the former president to the Managing Director of GPA relating to the constructions, was admitted as exhibits.  The witness continued that after spending the sums of D150, 000,000.00, the ferries cannot still dock.

At that juncture, Commission Chairman Sourahata Janneh put it to the witness that hence the ferries cannot dock despite spending huge sums of money spent on them, then they are still useless. The witness responded affirmatively.

Mr. Tony Ghattas, former Managing Director of APAM and proprietor of GHATSON Company while continuing with his testimony, yesterday refuted allegations that he is a close associate of the former president, Yahya Jammeh.

The business Mogul who reappeared to shed light on contracts he carried out during the former regime and especially during his tenure as Managing Director of the Mining Company APAM, confirmed bank statements from Sky Bank bearing the name of Sanghai Gambia Industrial Ltd, which were admitted as exhibits. He also confirmed that GHATSON Company Ltd also holds a bank account at Sky and Guaranty Trust Banks respectively.

When shown the dalasi and dollar accounts statements at the GT Bank, he confirmed them as the statements of GHATSON which were accordingly applied and admitted as exhibits.

According to him, Sanghai Zhong Zheng Mineral Company is a Chinese based Company, dealing in the buying and selling of Heavy Mineral Concentrates (HMC) which his Company, GHATSON, is partnering with. But that APAM was the Company exporting minerals to China.

Mr. Ghattas further explained to the Commission that GHATSON Company which is partnering with Sanghai Zhong Zheng Mineral Company, is operating in Mozambique, Vietnam and Indonesia, for HMC business; that he has never visited any of these countries but rather acts as a middle agent and after every transaction or dealing, he will have his percentage or profit.

At that juncture, Counsel Bensouda intimated to the witness that he was deviating from her question and has not shown any document of contract with the Companies he is partnering with in China and other countries. However, the Attorney for Ghattas, Sheriff Tambadou, said his client has been consistent in his testimony and did not know that his client will be questioned on contract documents for other companies in China, among others.

Barrister Tambadou argued that the business mogul has always stated that the businesses are done by Sanghai Zhong Zheng Mineral Company but when asked by Commission Chairman whether he received money or payments directly from China, he responded in the affirmative; that his payments come through Sanghai Zhong Zheng Mineral Company; that after the sale of minerals, he would get his percentage based on his capacity as a middle man in the business, but he has no share in the Company.

He was asked to show any payment made by the said company in his Gambian accounts which he promised to provide to the Commission. He added that he did not claim the sum of $290,000.00 to buy dredgers because his license was terminated by the Geological Department; that the said sum was approved by General Badjie from the APAM fund and he has no document to prove that as Bajie’s approval was verbal.

Mr. Ghattas refuted the allegation that he committed APAM to approve $2,130,000.00 to buy dredgers; that he paid D9.7 Million to GHATSON Company to provide services to APAM. He said he paid the villagers of Gunjur for the construction of a road after an agreement with the Geology Department, but that the project was funded by APAM and he did not have an invoice to show the payment he made to villagers.

When asked whether he has documents relating to the shipment of equipment from China upon arrival in the Gambia, he responded in the affirmative. He also claimed that he negotiated with General Badjie prior to the construction of the road in Sanyang and not the Geology Department. Asked why he used APAM’s money to buy cement, animal feed and basalt, he said he did so because APAM did not have money then, and he will use his money for the supply and be refunded later.

According to him, the reasons why he paid money to Gambia Milling Corporation was because he was making animal feed which was paid by GHATSON Company limited. He said he spent D67, 000,000.00 and all the dollars generated from HMC on animal feed.

Under cross-examination by his Lawyer, Ghattas said he is not a close associate of Jammeh as alleged by Nuha Touray, former Secretary to Cabinet, neither did he meet Jammeh in person.

“I am not a close associate of Yahya Jammeh and I never met him in person,” Ghattas told the ‘Janneh’ Commission. He finally testified that he did not know who appointed him as Managing Director of APAM but promised to check his letter of appointment to know who actually appointed him as the MD.

Mr. Ousman Jobarteh, Deputy Managing Director of Gambia Ports Authority, reappeared and was shown documents relating to Barajali Ferry. He said photos of the ferry were taken, showing the circumstances of the ferry at the time. The photos said to be obtained in 2006 by Suwaibou Barrow a staff of GPA, were admitted as exhibits.

Sitting continues today.