By Mamadou Dem
Mr. Hali Abdulai Gai, Deputy Managing Director of the Gambia Ferry Services, yesterday appeared before the “Janneh Commission” of Enquiry to explain a joint venture agreement between the Government of the Gambia and Gallie Holding Limited, for the purchase of two ferries.
Prior to Mr. Gai’s testimony, Abdoulie Jallow, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Affairs, continued to give evidence on the purchase of Mahindra Tractors and other financial matters, before the Commission.
According to Jallow, about 162 tractors were assembled and delivered to Kanifing Municipal Council (KMC) and that Kanilai International Group was responsible for the selling of the tractors. Jallow added that the total principal with interest on the loan amounted to over $6,885,179.00
Documents relating to principal, interest and summary of information regarding the loan agreement for the purchase of the tractors, were admitted as exhibit. PS Jallow said he did know whether the sales and proceeds of these tractors were paid to the ministry of finance but was asked to find out to enable the Commission to know what happened to the proceeds of the tractors. He is also expected to find out whether there was an account for the Mahindra tractors.
Mr. Jallow recalled that in 2006, a delegation from the Gambia, visited two companies in India in respect of the purchase of the said tractors. A letter addressed to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Kanilai Group International (KGI), indicating sales of tractors was admitted as exhibit.
Mr. Jallow responded to Commission Counsel Mrs. Amie Bensouda, that it’s correct that MSJ was privatized under the Ministry of Finance. He however said that he can’t remember who authorized the privatization of MSJ.
Prior to discharging the witness, Commissioner Bai Mass Saine observed that most of the questions put to the witness were responded to as: “I don’t Know.” That therefore, they would need a person from the Ministry who knew what transpired with regard to the loans and other issues.
Reacting to this, the witness said he wasn’t involved in the process that’s why he couldn’t answer the questions put to him and that he has provided the Commission with the information and documents he knew about.
Sadibou Barrow, Logistics and Maintenance Coordinator at the Ferry Services, gave evidence on the Barajali ferry that was handed over to the Gam Petroleum. He testified that the said ferry was operating at the Bambatenda Yellitenda crossing point on the Trans-Gambia river, and the said ferry seized operations in 2005.
According to the witness, a sister ferry James Island, plying on the same route, was sent to Banjul for maintenance and upon completion, Barajali was also brought to the same place for the same purpose but it never returned. He said the Barajali Ferry was structurally in good condition as well as sea worthy by the time it was sent to Banjul for repairs, on the engine.
The Deputy Managing Director of the Gambia Ports Authority (GPA), Ousman Jobarteh in his testimony said he was not involved in the joint venture agreement between the Government of the Gambia and Galllie Company for the purchase of Aljamdou and Kansala ferries until when there was arbitration between the former Government and the Company. He informed Commissioners that there was an agreement for the construction of platforms for the landing of the ferries, prior to their arrival.
According him, the concrete platforms were built in Banjul, Barra, Bambatenda and Yellitenda but it was later realised that the ferries could not dock and the Company (Gallie), filed a suit against the former Government because the ferries could not land after the construction of the platforms.
Mr. Jobarteh disclosed that there were three trading Companies involved in this joint venture agreement; the Management Company (GPA), Aljamdou Trading Company, Kansala Trading Company and Ferry Service Company.
On the issue of investments carried out in each of these subsidiary Companies, the witness said the sum of €3, 080,000.00 was meant for Aljamdou Ferry while €3, 505,000.00 was meant for Kansala and the total cost for Marine and Civil works was €468,000.00 equivalent to D173,000,000. He disclosed that there was a directive from the office of the then president for the money to be paid into the offshore account for the purchase of the ferries.
At that juncture, a Memorandum for the joint venture agreement and other information and correspondences were admitted as exhibits. Certified transfer of deeds dated 31st December 1974, from the Ministry of Works on behalf of the then government to GPA, was also admitted as exhibits. Statements of accounts and five-year business plan prepared by Deloite and Touches Associates on behalf of the GPA on the Joint VentureAgreement, were further admitted as exhibits.
The Deputy Managing Director, Gambia Ferry Services, Hali Abdulai Gai also gave evidence on this joint venture agreement for the purchase of these two ferries. He said there was a task force setup by the office of the former president for the purchase of the ferries. Among them were the then Secretary General Njogu Bah, PS, Office of the former President, Mustapha Yabo, PS Finance, Modou Secka, MD, GPA Muhammed Lamin Gibba, Officer in Charge of Ferries, Hali Abdulai Gai, CEO, GIEPA and then Solicitor General, Pa Harry Jammeh respectively.
According to the witness, the task force was given a deadline to complete their duty for the purchase of the ferries. He said the GPA management was summoned for a meeting together with head of securities because the former president was not happy with the manner they responded to the Greek investors and he never allowed them to explain their side of the story and they were asked to apologise.
Mr. Gai testified that the task force formed a delegation to Greece comprising himself, Momodou Sabally and Pa Harry Jammeh, to inspect the ferries and his recommendation was that all the ferries should be subjected to rehabilitation and sea trial prior to purchasing them; but that this never happened. He said upon his return from Greece, he sent a report to the former president, outlining his observation and recommendation on the ferries and the joint venture account, for the purchase of these ferries; but that later he was dismissed together with Abdoulie Tambadou and eventually prosecuted in connection with the ferries.
Mr. Gai is expected to reappear before the Commission next week Monday, 23rd October 2017.