By Omar Bah
Madi Jobarteh, a Gambian rights activist and political commentator, has urged President Adama Barrow to suspend his tourism minister over investigations into allegations of corruption at the Gambia Tourism Board.
The Public Petitions Committee of the National Assembly last week launched investigations into allegations of graft implicating senior members of the board, including former director general Abdoulie Hydara. “Given that the National Assembly Petitions Committee is investigating Hamat Bah and GTBoard, the president should suspend both the minister and concerned directors pending conclusion of the investigations. Let Barrow show Leadership,” Jobarteh urged.
The probe comes following a petition by concerned GTB staff members alleging widespread “corruption and procurement irregularities” committed in the awards of contracts for the construction of ecotourism camps (lodges.)
In 2018 the GTB rolled out a rural ecotourism project and invited bids for the construction of five eco camps to be built across the five regions of The Gambia. The Lerr Group, Mendura Construction, BB Electrical & Construction, Peace Enterprise, Lamin Jatta Eco Construction, and Santa Yalla construction Company took part in the bidding.
The companies made the following offers: Mendura Construction D12,121,746.50; BB Electrical and Construction D14,628,032.80; Peace Enterprise D13, 188,075.00; Lamin Jatta Eco Construction D13,839,309,00; Santa Yalla Construction D16, 514,888.00; and Lerr Group D26, 199,667.84.
But the plaintive workers alleged in their petition that Hydara and director of finance Ousainou Senghore who was the chairman of the contracts committee enagaged in “financial abuse” to “enrich themselves” when they awarded the contract to Lerr Group who tendered a bid which was at least D10 million higher than the rest.
Reacting to the call for his suspension, Minister Hamat Bah said in the democracy that we live in today in The Gambia, “people have their opinions and the right to express their opinions.”
“It doesn’t bother me much. It is an allegation that will be verified and at the end of the day parliament is in the position to establish the truth,” he concluded.