By Baba Sillah
The former Minister of Finance, Kebba S Touray was yesterday summoned by the Janneh Commission with regard to the Joint Venture Agreement between The Gambia Government and Gallie Holding Company for the purchase of the two ferries, Aljamdou and Kansala as well as the opening of the account purposely for the ferries which he was a signatory.
Touray was summoned based on his capacity as the former Gambian ambassador to Spain where he happened to be part of the delegation that went to inspect the said ferries in Greece.
Touray appeared along with the managing directors of Gambia Ferry Services, Hali Abdoulie Gai and Abdoulie Tambadou as well as former secretary general Momodou Sabally.
Explaining his role in the purchase of the ferries, Mr Touray said while he was serving as ambassador in Spain and also overseeing Greece, he was informed by his office in The Gambia [Ministry of Foreign Affairs] to join the delegation to Greece for the inspection of ferries which was part of the Joint Venture Agreement between the government and the Gallie Holding Company Ltd in Greece.
He said they agreed for the payment to be made into an account in Greece before disbursement of funds and that was the time the issue of signatories to the account came about.
When asked by the Commission Counsel, Amie Bensouda on what clauses in the Joint Venture Agreement he relied on, Mr Touray said he needed time to refresh his mind.
When quizzed on the number of times the delegation went to Greece about the ferries as part of agreement, Mr Touray who was also at one-time Minister of Trade, he said two trips with both the first and the second trips comprising GPA official, representatives from Ministry of Justice and office of the president.
Mr Touray said the agreement included maintenance of the ferries, opening of an account but he believe that the account was closed because it was meant for that project.
Mr Touray further said he believes the records regarding the agreement will be with the officials of GPA, SSHFC and Ministry of Finance.
He said he was not in the position to determine the suitability of the ferries for the Gambian waters since he is not an expert in that area, adding that the technical experts were part of the delegation that went to Greece.
Next to appear before the commission was Hali Abdoulie Gai, the managing director of ferry services who also gave evidence on the Joint Venture Agreement.
Mr Gai said the ferries were good but poorly managed, saying each could carry up to eighty vehicles which is huge revenue for the state.
Asked why he agreed to the 20% payment as part of agreement, he replied that he believes it was a good investment and the ferries were in good condition at the time.
Mr Gai said as the officer in charge of the ferries at the time, he felt that there was need for strategy for the deployment of staff but to his dismay, he was demoted to director of operation because there was report that he was against certain ethnic group.
He said there was lot of infighting at GPA and in 2015, he received his dismissal later from Personnel Management Office and was later prosecuted.
When asked by Commissioner Saine why he did not challenge PMO for his dismissal since he was not a civil servant and his dismissal could have been done by the GPA board, he said he knew PMO has no right to dismiss him but because of the environment at the time he could not for fear that he might be sent to jail by a kangaroo court.
Documents and correspondences relating to the Joint Venture Agreement, construction of slipways and court settlement between Attorney General and Hali Abdoulie Gai were admitted as exhibits.
Abdoulie Tambadou, the managing director testified that GPA participation into the Joint Venture Agreement was discussed by the board and they were asked to contribute 1.175 million Euros and they always sought approval from the office of the president before disbursement of funds. He said the account detail was brought to the GPA by Hali Abdoulie Gai who was part of the delegation that went to Greece but did not see any statement of the account and how disbursement was made into the account.
Momodou Sabally, the former secretary general also testified on the same matter while the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Local Government and Lands gave evidence on matters relating to the lease of a land to The Gambia Milling Corporation.
Meanwhile The Standard has learned that Amadou Samba is now done with the investigators and he is expected to appear before the commission at anytime.